28 Dec : Concerned over rising road fatalities, the government is planning to introduce a scheme to fund the medical treatment of victims of road accidents through insurance companies or budgetary support.
“We are planning to come up with a scheme for free treatment of road-accident victims for the first 48 hours… We are currently deciding on the source of funding for this,” a senior Transport Ministry official told the news agency.
The scheme was mooted by the Road Safety Committee set up in October.
According to the Committee, an escrow account would be established, which will be utilised for payment of treatment costs to the hospitals, and to which insurance companies are expected to contribute.
The Road Safety Committee recently called a meeting of all public sector insurance companies together with some private firms like ICICI Lombard, Reliance Insurance, Bajaj Allianz and IFFCO-Tokyo to prepare a workplan for sources of funding for the proposed scheme.
“The insurance companies have shown willingness towards the scheme,” he added.
The Committee suggested that insurance companies should increase the premium charged by these companies on motor vehicles by Rs 45-50 to contribute to the account.
However, Insurance firms are opposed to a hike in the premium and are expected to revert to the Ministry to suggest suitable options, he said.
Since the government is keen on implementing the scheme, it could also be funded through budgetary support if funds through other sources can not be arranged, he added.
“Once we decide on the funding, the proposal will go to the Finance Ministry and the Planning Commission,” the official said.
To a query on where the free-treatment scheme will be rolled out, the official said, “We are considering where we can flag off pilot projects… Mumbai-Pune expressway is a good option.”
The Minister for Road Transport and Highways Kamal Nath had set up the Road Safety Committee to look into traffic management and related issues in the country.
The Committee, headed by Transport Secretary Brahm Dutt, is a stop-gap arrangement and will cease to exist once the proposed National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board comes into existence.
The Sundar Committee, headed by former Transport Secretary S Sundar, had in 2005 recommended setting up of a board to look into issues pertaining to road safety to curtail accidents.
The number of fatalities is on the rise on national highways. The number of deaths on national highways rose from 34,723 in 2004 to 40,612 in 2007, according to official data.
Similarly, the number of accidents on national highways jumped from 92,618 in 2004 to 1,14,444 in 2007.