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Vehicles likely to be linked to Aadhaar in attempt to boost highway safety

A ministry of home affairs (MHA) panel tasked with drafting a comprehensive policy for securing Indian highways has suggested that a central body be set up to maintain data on motor vehicles by linking their registration numbers to the Aadhaar numbers of their owners.

It is one among several recommendation made by MHA’s Working Group on Highway Security, which was formed in July 2017 and is headed by AP Maheshwari, director general of the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D).

The recommendations are aimed at reinforcing security against incidents such as Maoist and other militant attacks on highways, reducing crimes such as robberies and attacks on women as well as road accidents.

The group comprises representatives from the ministry of road transport and highways and MHA as well as the director generals of police (DGPs) from six states – Punjab, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Assam.

The panel hasn’t directly recommended linking motor vehicles to Aadhaar, but suggested the creation of a Central Repository Body (CRB) at the central government level. This body, the working group has suggested, will create a country-wide database of motor vehicles after they are linked with the 12-digit unique identity number, according to a senior government official familiar with the development.

” As of now, creation of a CRB is only of the many recommendations. Members of the working group will discuss and scrutinise all the recommendations after which they will be taken up at the central and state level. A draft of the working group’s recommendations has been sent to the DGPs of the six states and we are awaiting their response,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

If the recommendation is accepted by the central and state governments, vehicle owners will be required to link motor vehicles’ registration certificates to Aadhaar.

The recommendation found some support from Delhi transport minister Kailash Gahlot who said that while the idea of linking vehicle registrations to Aadhaar may be beneficial, current laws raise questions on making it mandatory.

“The linking of Aadhaar with motor vehicles can help in many things like hit-and-run cases or tracing vehicles but at the same time we are not sure if the current laws will permit mandatory linking of Aadhaar to vehicles,” Gahlot said.

“We had in fact issued the new permit system for auto rickshaws in Delhi for which the Aadhaar number was required to be produced by interested individuals,” he added.

According to official documents, MHA requested BPR&D to constitute the working group after the need for it was raised at the annual conference of director generals and inspector generals of police in 2016. The group was supposed to evolve an action plan in three months and its implementation was to start within a year, the documents accessed by Hindustan Times show.

Among other recommendations is real-time surveillance of highways using drones and dome cameras that could be installed along the highways. This recommendation has been made after taking into consideration the law and order situation in sensitive zones such as Jammu and Kashmir and areas vulnerable to Maoist attacks, the senior government official cited above added.

The drones, according to the official, could be operated by the office of the local superintendent of police (SP).

The working group has also recommended that the states conduct a comprehensive dark spot analysis — an assessment of accident-prone areas, an exercise first undertaken by the Tamil Nadu government to reduce road accidents, said another senior government official.

“Till now state governments have list s of accident-prone areas that is based on data of incidents. The dark spot analysis will be a comprehensive study of why accidents take place, areas vulnerable to accidents and possible measures to avoid such incidents,” the official said, requesting anonymity.

The working group will also recommend introduction of a “safety and security component” in the annual budget for roads and highways.

Rohit Baluja,president of the Institute of Road Traffic Education and an expert on road safety, says that technological advancements, including linking of Aadhaar, can only prove useful if coupled with strong enforcement.

“Around 64% road accidents in India take place on highways and we continue not to have a standard policy to deal with them. There is need for a strong highway patrol system and an enforcing agency which knows how to react and respond to road safety issues. I train Indian Police officers who do not have a great understanding of traffic law enforcement,” Baluja said. (Source HT)

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