Expressing his inability to understand the protest against the amended motor vehicle law, Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday asserted that the new provisions are aimed at curbing accidents and not earning revenue.
The minister's comments came against the backdrop of the strike by transporters, taxis and auto-rickshaws in the national capital on Thursday against the new law that provides for heavy penalties for traffic rule violations.
Gadkari said he was unable to comprehend why drivers in Delhi were opposing the new law as those who follow traffic rules need not fear and moreover the new Motor Vehicles Act was to save their lives.
The countries that have stringent traffic laws report very few or zero accidents, the minister noted while questioning that why cannot people be sensitive where so many people die in road accidents.
Commuters faced difficulties in reaching their destinations in the national capital on Thursday as several private buses, taxis and autorickshaws remained off the road due to the strike called by the United Front of Transport Associations against the amended Motor Vehicle Act provisions.
Addressing an event about road safety organised by Transport Corporation of India (TCI) here, Gadkari said human lives were precious given 1.5 lakh deaths in 5 lakh accidents and suggesting that those opposed to the legislation can also come up against stringent legislation prescribing death penalty to those convicted of raping minor girls.
"There is no fear of, no respect for the law. Thirty years back fine for any traffic violation was Rs 100 ... now what could be its value. Moreover this goes into states' kitty and does not accrue to the centre. People should not violate traffic law...We have fixed death penalty for people raping a minor girl...Some people can also argue that why the government has brought such law. Law is to prevent such heinous crime," the minister said.
In no other nation getting a driving licence is so easy as in India, the Road Transport and Highways Minister said questioning does a drunk driver of a public transport vehicle have the right to endanger the lives of passengers.
"Ask the plight of any family which has lost a young person in an accident ... ask how they feel. Ask any family whose young member has become crippled as 3 lakh people become handicapped every year due to accidents," the minister said.
The minister said not wearing helmets result in 30,000 people dying while a large number of people met accidents because of using cell phones while driving.
He said getting licenses will be computerised and so far the "government has opened 22 driving training schools in the country... we will open more. We will train drivers. We will tell about the importance of road safety.
Gadkari said that majority of the states are on board with regard to the new motor law and it is well within their right to make changes in penalties where a range of fines for traffic violations has been fixed.
He said that by and large people have welcomed the new Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act and he is hopeful of reduction in the number of deaths related to road accidents.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, which provides for heavy penalties for traffic rule violations, came into force from September 1. However, some states reduced the penalties after reports of hefty fines by the police for breaking traffic rules hit the headlines.
Gadkari said barring one or two states all were on board on the new law. He said that the reports from states said that there was a multi-fold increase in the number of people applying for licenses and pollution certificates etc.