By deferring implementation of the norm to make six airbags mandatory in passenger cars by one year to October 1, 2023, the government has recognised genuine concerns of the automobile industry, Maruti Suzuki India Chairman R C Bhargava said on Thursday.
The government had earlier planned to make six airbags mandatory in eight-seater vehicles for enhanced safety of occupants from October 1, 2022.
"Industry had been seeking postponement because there was not enough time (to comply) and the market was down and it is great that the government has recognised the validity of what we were saying and they have acted very supportive of the industry," Bhargava told PTI when asked about the development.
He, however, added that the next year date (October 1, 2023) may be adequate for some carmakers but would not be enough for companies who would need to make structural changes in the car to accommodate the six airbags.
"Those cars which require modifications to the body to accommodate the airbags will take a longer time, other cars can be done in the timeframe," Bhargava stated.
Earlier, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari announced the government's stance regarding the matter.
"Considering the global supply chain constraints being faced by the auto industry and its impact on the macroeconomic scenario, it has been decided to implement the proposal mandating a minimum of six airbags in passenger cars (M-1 Category) w.e.f 01st October 2023," he tweeted.
The minister further asserted that the safety of all passengers travelling in motor vehicles irrespective of their cost and variants is the foremost priority. An airbag interferes between the driver and the vehicle's dashboard during a collision, thereby preventing serious injuries.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) in a statement said that in order to enhance the safety of occupants of the motor vehicle against lateral impact, it has been decided to enhance safety features by amending the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR), 1989.
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, over 1.55 lakh lives were lost in road crashes across India in 2021 -- an average of 426 daily or 18 every single hour -- which is the highest death figures recorded in any calendar year so far.