Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari who has been campaigning for safety on the roads has chosen not to comment on the opposition to helmet rule on Pune’s roads by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the city’s BJP member of parliament (MP) Anil Shirole.

On Saturday, Gadkari declined to comment when asked about the opposition from the BJP members in Pune to the safety helmets enforcement drive for two-wheeler riders which was launched by the Pune police.

“Gadkari is not willing to comment on the compulsion of helmets in Pune as it is a local issue. We are working for public safety at the national level,” said Kaustubh Phaltankar, Gadkari’s officer on special duty.

While the Pune police embarked on the strict implementation of the helmets rule for two-wheeler riders for better road safety, BJP MP Anil Shirole and other party leaders have been opposing this drive.

Shirole has also written to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis asking him to instruct the police to go slow on the implementation of helmet compulsion.

“The use of helmets should not be made mandatory, but should be kept as a personal choice. There are many cases of people suffering from medical issues after using helmets. Hence, it is my opinion that this issue should be kept open to the public,” Shirole said.

The police on the other hand have reported that in 2018, 182 two-wheeler riders of the 253 killed in fatal road accidents, were found without helmets and 359 others suffered serious injuries.

The police have so far collected Rs 17.13 lakh in fines for not using helmets while riding two-wheelers.

Gadkari, in August, 2018, had launched a road safety awareness video with actor Akshay Kumar as the brand ambassador of the road safety campaign.

During that launch, Gadkari had said that the priority of the government is to reduce road accidents as the number of people killed in road accidents was much more than the total lives lost in wars.

He had urged that road safety has to be a people’s movement, adding that his ministry had written to the Home ministry suggesting that Good Samaritans who provide assistance in road accidents should also be considered for National Bravery Awards. Gadkari had urged people to come forward and help people without fear to help accident victims.

Akshay Kumar on his part had said that he was shocked with the facts and figures related to road accidents in the country.

First Published: Jan 06, 2019 16:28 IST

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