TRUCKERS RUN DOWN ‘UNFAIR BAN’
Truckers on Sunday threatened to stop moving goods in and out of the national Capital from Monday midnight in protest against the National Green Tribunal (NGT)’s order banning diesel vehicles over 10 years old from plying in Delhi and the National Capital Region. More than one lakh trucks enter Delhi every day bringing all the essential products, including perishable goods, and industrial goods. If they go ahead with the strike threat, essential services and movement of goods and commodities would be affected. Since Delhi is neither an agricultural State nor a manufacturing one, almost everything that the city consumes is transported through these trucks.
“No commercial vehicle will run in Delhi from Monday midnight. We strongly oppose the decision of NGT and the strike will continue till the ban is lifted,” said Bhim Wadhwa, president of All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC). AIMTC said that following the NGT order, a number of vehicles are being impounded at night and truck drivers are forced to pay bribes to move unhindered. It added that the Government must pay heed to the loss of livelihood of lakhs of truckers and their family members on account of this short-sighted diktat.
Naveen Gupta, general secretary of AIMTC, told The Pioneer that there’s a strong resentment among the transporters fraternity against the “unfair ban”. “While people would call it a strike, for us, it’s a struggle for our survival,” said Gupta. “Police, traffic police and RTO officials are harassing drivers and even standing vehicles are being impounded. We are left with no choice but to stop operating in the national Capital.”
Meanwhile, over a dozen transport associations under the banner of All India Motor Transport Association met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at his residence on Sunday. They urged the Chief Minister to take necessary steps to scrap the NGT ban. Kejriwal assured them that the Government will file review petition before the NGT and if they fail to get the relief, the Delhi Government may move the Supreme Court against the order, transporters told the newspersons after the meeting.
The transport associations include Delhi Goods Transport Association, Delhi Transport Association, All India Transport Welfare Association, Kamla Market Transport Association, Kirti Nagar Transport Association, Zakhira Transport Association. In another significant move, the Delhi Government approached the Centre asking it to file appeal against the NGT order, sources said, adding Delhi Transport Department officials may meet their UP and Haryana counterparts on this issue.
Delhi Goods Transport Association’ general secretary Rajinder Kapoor told The Pioneer that transporters will call off the strike only when court’s order is in truckers’ favour. Kapoor said the meeting with the Chief Minister lasted for over 45 minutes. “The CM was not happy with the order that will create mess in Delhi and NCR,” he said, adding that the Delhi Government will file review petition before the NGT. It may be noted that the NGT had even turned down the Delhi Government’s plea for relaxation on essential services like fire, ambulance and jail van.
Truckers’ associations claimed that most of the trucks that ply on Delhi roads are over 10 years old as transporters prefer to use older trucks for short distance transportations keeping newer ones for longer distances. The tribunal had directed the Transport Department of the Delhi Government and other concerned authorities to prepare a comprehensive data of registration of vehicles which are 10 or more years old.
Enforcing the order, the Delhi Traffic Police has already impounded over 250 vehicles. Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has said that the country’s economic situation and other aspects also need to be taken into account while implementing such decisions.