Mumbai: SIAM's Automotive Fitness & Environment (SAFE), conducted its 22nd edition of ‘SAFE Annual Convention 2021’on 17th September 2021 on a virtual platform.
With the theme of Environment & Road Safety: Enforcement & Compliance”, the convention witnessed the participation of policymakers and bureaucrats from the central and state governments as well as the industry leaders, scholars, and experts on the subject to deliberate upon the pertinent environment and road safety challenges from the lens of regulation, enforcement, technology, and environment.
The inaugural session led by Mr. Rajesh Menon, Director General, SIAM, read out the message sent by the Hon’ble Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari. The Hon’ble minister congratulated SIAM and SAFE on the initiative and its participants and explained that road safety and environment is the need of the hour and hence every stakeholder should come forward to resolve it.
As per Mr. Rajesh Menon, “Together SAFE and SIAM are working with the Government, transport departments, traffic polices NGOs, private sector, students &academicians, and other stakeholders towards the 5E’s of education, enforcement, engineering, environment, and emergency care. We need to be consistently improvising the efforts.”
In his opening remark, Mr. Prashant K Banerjee, Executive Director, SIAM, said “While the road safety efforts have gained substantial momentum during Road Safety Week and Road Safety month, but considering the requirement, it should become a daily affair. Hence, under the leadership of SAFE and SIAMthe activities should continue around the year. We are also launching the SAFE Annual Report capturing all the efforts initiated and conducted by the SAFE in last one year.”
Guest of Honour, Mr. K C Gupta, Additional Secretary, MoRTH, Commenting upon the road accident statistics, said “We account for 11% of road deaths in the entire world, although we have only 1% of world vehicles in India. The US has 4.6 times higher road accidents than India, but when it comes to the number of deaths due to road accidents, their fatalities is 25% of India. However, India is on the top. This is a major concern for all of us and it needs the immediate intervention of all stakeholders.”
Guest of Honour, Mr. Rajesh Kumar Singh, Principal Secretary – Transport, Government of Uttar Pradesh, said “The matter of road accidents and fatalities cannot be resolved by enforcement solely. There are many factors responsible for these avoidable deaths like road qualities, safety measures in vehicles, etc. Every state has to devise a specific policy to eradicate the problem. The most trusted policy to do so is to enhance awareness.”
Elaborating upon the impact of unsafe roads, Mr. Anupam Shrivastava, President- SAFE, said, “Road accidents have a direct impact on human capital. In 2019, India recorded 4,37,396 road accident cases with 1,54,732 fatalities. Apart from the enormous human toll, road safety has a major economic impact.”
Sharing an international perspective, Dr.Sudeshna Mitra, Transport Specialist, World Bank, USA, said“Over 69% of accident fatalities happen in the age group between 18to45. In South Asia, the rapid growth of a heterogonous mix of traffic and vehicles are making the roads unsafe and vulnerable for road users. We should have targeted enforcement. There needs to be institutional ownership of the problem.”
Giving an overview of SAFE efforts, Mr. Pankaj Gupta, Vice President, SAFE, expressed, “This year the National Road Safety Campaign was a month-long event. Through SIAM SAFE, we were able to connect with different parts of the country, with school children and commercial vehicle drivers.”
Followed by the inaugural session, the first-panel discussion on “Strong Leadership by Enforcement Authority and improved Road Safety Management” was graced by guests of Honour Mr. K C Gupta and Mr. Rajesh KumarSingh. Other distinguished Panellists were Mr. Niju Azhakesan, Director – Technical Support Group, Kerala Road Safety Authority; Mr. PraveerRanjan, IPS, DGP, UT Chandigarh; Mr. L P Padalia, IAS, Commissioner, Road Safety Authority, Gujarat; Dr. K KSrinathRaghavan, Chief Manager, RGB Labs, IIT Madras; and Nidhi Singh, Joint Transport Commissioner, Government of Rajasthan. The session was moderated by Mr. Pankaj Doval, Senior Editor, The Times of India.
The second session on “Contribution of Corporates & NGOs in Protecting Environment & Road Safety” had experts debate upon the role of companies and civil society in ensuring adherence to road safety measures was graced by Justice A M Sapre, Chairman, Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, along with distinguished participants including Mr. Ravi Avalur, Head of Premium Segment Business Unit, Hero MotoCorp Ltd; Mr. Kartikeya Joshi, Vice President, Uno Minda Group; Mr. N M Kulkarni, Global Technical Manager, Shell Technology Centre; Mr. Rod King, Love 30 global campaign, UK; Mr. Satish Parakh, President, IRF India Chapter; Mr. Ramashankar Pandey, CEO, Hella India was moderated by Mr. Parikshit Luthra, Associate Editor CNBC TV-18.
Sharing from his experience and close observation to the matter, Justice A M Sapre, Chairman, Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, appealed to one and all to take the issue of road safety as a mission. He expressed that “over-speeding, driving under influence, using of mobile phones were some of the leading causes of road accidents and fatalities. Police departments should enhance the efficiency of enforcement.”
He emphasized that “road accidents are not the will of God, so are avoidable.”
The third-panel discussion had experts discussing the “Latest Development on Air Quality Improvement”. It was attended by Prof (Dr) Adarsh Pal Vig, Chairman, PPCB; Dr. SudheerChintaPalli, Scientist -D, MoEF&CC; Mr. V Sridhar, Senior Director, Purchase, Honda Motorcycle & Scooters; MrRavindra K U, Senior General Manager, Bosch Ltd, and MrSudipta Basu, Executive Director, ECMA, was moderated byMrSumantraBarooah, Executive Editor, Autocar Professional.
Experts mentioned how leapfrogging to BSVI was a landmark step undertaken by the Government and the industry. They further discussed the recent scrappage policy which is another effective step in preventing environmental degradation and how it is a crucial step in reducing accidents due to old, unfit, and obsolete vehicles. The panel deliberated upon the challenges of affordability of new vehicles and emerging electronic and hybrid fuel variants.
The 22nd SAFE Annual Convention witnessed deep discussions and knowledge sharing.