ENJOYING ALL the benefits on humanitarian grounds, hearse runners (vehicles used for carrying dead bodies and mourners from one place to another) are exploiting people inhumanly. Interestingly, the Transport Department has no control over them.
Since the State Government has not fixed any maximum tariff for the hearse, the operators charge the grieved family members exorbitantly taking advantage of their haplessness. Their only objective to earn more and more profit without having any emotional sympathy with mourners who are emotionally broken due to the passing-away of a family member or friend.
There are around 100 hearses in the State Capital. These vehicles with “laash ke wastey” written on them can be spotted parked around the King George’s Medical University, where the mortuary is also situated. When the mourners approach them requesting to carry the body of their relative, they charge anything between Rs 3,000-5,000 to carry the body and the mourners from the mortuary to the Bhainsa Kund. They charge too high regardless of the financial condition of the mourners.
Significantly, these vehicles are free from any liability of not only obtaining a permit but also to pay the additional (passenger) tax. Without any proper check, these vehicles also pollute the environment. Most of these rickety vehicles are as old as 20 years, but the age barrier is not applicable to the hearse.
The UP Motor Vehicles Taxation Rules, 1998 clearly lay down that the hearses will not be liable to pay the additional tax. “Stage-carriages exclusively used for carrying bodies along with mourners and for return journey shall be exempted from the payment of additional tax under the Motor Vehicle Act,” say rules. A normal vehicle on an average has to pay Rs 5,000 per month as additional tax to the transport department. Besides, unlike the hearse cars the normal vehicles also have to obtain a permit from the regional/state transport authority to ply on a particular route against one-time permit fee of Rs 4,500.
“The Government gives all these concessions to them presuming they are doing a noble work of transporting the bodies and the mourners. So, the hearse car operators are supposed to pass on the benefits to the people by charging a reasonable fare,” said State Transport Authority secretary JA Siddiqi.
Regional Transport Officer, Arvind Kumar Pandey admitted that hearse operators often exploited the mourners. But he expressed his helplessness.
“We hardly can take any action against them as the tariff to be charged by them is not fixed,” he said. Pandey agreed that the Government must fix the maximum fare that the hearse could be allowed to charge from the people.