By allowing one more year to striking truckers to get their oversized vehicles modified as per the Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR), 1989, the Haryana government on Wednesday virtually went back to square one.
The relaxation granted by the government is more or less similar to the one given by the previous Congress regime through a notification in March 2012 for a period of one year as a “one-time measure” to give vehicle owners time for carrying out alterations specifications and dimensions to strictly conform to the rules.
The oversized vehicles, which are a traffic hazard, kept getting certificates of fitness thereafter, but not many – transport officials say, hardly any – made the alterations in the past three years. They have been now granted another year to carry out the alterations with a stipulation that the vehicle owners would give `2 lakh surety bond for each large-size vehicle at the time of getting its annual fitness certificate as commitment to get the alterations done within the next one year.
Sources said that during the talks with the truckers, the government insisted on bank guarantee of Rs 2 lakh for each vehicle, but the transporters were not willing.
The two sides then settled for surety bond. The government, seemingly feeling the pressure after truckers went on strike on Tuesday, started making efforts from the morning to find a way out. While transport minister Ram Bilas Sharma first held a meeting with transport officials, chief minister ML Khattar and Sharma later met representatives of transporters’ associations, who had been called to Chandigarh for discussion, to find solution.
GENESIS OF THE PROBLEM
The standoff between truckers and the department had its origins in the overall dimensions prescribed for vehicles in Rule 93 of CMVR. While the rules prescribe set dimensions for vehicles, a large number of transport vehicles, exceeding the prescribed size, to cut costs and maximise profits, are plying for years. In its March 2012 notification, the state government issued the notification under section 110(3) (b) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, deciding to grant fitness certificate to such oversized transport vehicles for one year to give the vehicle owners time to make alternations to conform to the rules.
While the relaxation period lapsed on March 12, 2013, the truckers kept getting fitness certificates for oversized vehicles. After a gap of one year, the then transport commissioner, according to department sources, on March 4, 2014, issued a letter wherein oversized trucks and trailers used for carrying automobiles were granted relaxation for indefinite period of time, citing a draft notification issued four years ago.
KHEMKA STEPPED IN
Ashok Khemka, the new transport commissioner, on December 8, 2014 withdrew his predecessor’s letter, being ultra vires. “The ministry of road transport and highways did not issue the final notification and the draft notification is dead,” according to a status report submitted by the department to the chief minister. The vehicle owners then went on strike to press for restoration of the exemption.
However, transport commission department officials, terming oversized vehicles as serious traffic hazard, are insisting that dimensions not conforming to the CMVR must be indicated in the fitness certificate. The transporters are said to be against recording of actual dimensions in fitness certificates. “The fitness certificate issued must be true and correct,” insisted an official.