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At least 2,500 of the total 6,000 identified black spots that caused accidents have been rectified by the road transport ministry so far, said Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday. He also urged states to cooperate in reducing road-related deaths by 50% by 2025.

"We are in the process (to rectify the remaining). The World Bank and ADB Bank have already sanctioned a loan of 14,000 crore and we are making improvements on the roads, particularly in removing the black spots," said Gadkari at an event organised by World Bank and Government of Tamil Nadu.

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Gadkari further suggested that the development of smart villages, in line with smart cities, should be taken up to reduce migration of people from rural to urban areas, which, he claimed, was one of the reasons for the increase in accidents.

"As an MSME minister, I am going to insist that you need to develop every village (as smart villages). Not only smart cities, but we also need to develop smart villages, we need to stop this migration, without that we cannot solve the problem of urban areas and that is important for the country," he said.

The minister stated that India accounted for the highest number of accidents in the world, one of the major reasons for which was poor road engineering.

"In our country, every year about five lakh accidents take place and 1.50 lakh people lose their lives and a majority of the victims are aged between 18 and 45," said Gadkari.

He said that India was losing 3% to 5% of its Gross Domestic Product due to accidents. He noted that a person could get a driving license in the country very easily unlike in the United States.

"It is also not good for me to tell you that when we referred to the records of driving licenses, at least 30% of them were bogus and one person had three to four licenses," said Gadkari.

"We have changed the system and with the help of the Income Tax department, were able to take some action on those people who had multiple driving licenses," the minister added.

Gadkari earlier last week said that the road accident scenario in India is more dangerous than the pandemic, pointing to potential savings of 90 lakh per person if such deaths are prevented.

"For the government, each life is precious, whether poor or rich, urban or rural, male or female. The situation is alarming. There are more deaths than in Covid-19. It is more dangerous than Covid-19," said Gadkari, releasing a World Bank report on accidents in India.

What did the World Bank report say?

India, which has one per cent of the world's vehicles, accounts for 10% of all road crash victims, the latest World Bank report on road safety said.

“For India, it's one per cent of the world's vehicles and 10% of the crash victims. This is something where, in particular in India, we have to pay attention," said Hartwig Schafer, World Bank’s Vice President for South Asia.

While the attention in the last year has shifted due to Covid-19, there is an interesting link between road safety and pandemic right now, he noted.

“Unfortunately, the road crashes have not been going down and any time 10% of the capacity in hospitals is being used for the treatment crash victims," he said.

Schafer said road crashes actually hit the poorest and the most vulnerable segments of the populations.

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