Union Minister of Road Transport, Highways And Shipping, Nitin Gadkari, on Saturday called upon the stakeholders in road construction to accord top priority to saving lives by taking measures to prevent road accidents.

    The minister asked engineers, construction firms and other stakeholders to play their respective roles in ensuring best quality roads adhering to all safety norms.

    Addressing the 77th Annual Session of the Indian Road Congress (IRC) here, he voiced concern over the loss of 1.5 lakh lives in 5 lakh road accidents every year in India.

    Gadkari said that out of the 52 lakh kilometers of road length in the country, the national highways are just 96,000 kilometers. While being just 2 per cent of the total roads, national highways 40 per cent of the total traffic.

    The minister said that the first decision which was taken by his ministry was to increase the length of national highways to 2 lakh kilometers.

    “We have already declared 1,65,000 km as national highway and we will be adding another 35,000 km in the coming days,” he said.

    Gadkari claimed that when he took over as the minister, 403 projects worth Rs 3.75 lakh crore were stalled due to delays in land acquisition and environmental and forest clearances.

    He said the work on 95 per cent of the projects was resumed with new Detailed Project Reports (DPRs).

    The DPRs, he said, had to be perfect and prepared with a vision and in tune with the 21st century requirements. In the past, bridges and underpasses were cancelled to save money, which led to accidents.

    The minister stressed the need for innovation and research to bring down the cost of construction and improve the quality of roads. Jason Spezza Authentic Jersey

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