About 150 operators of seven- seater three-wheelers (tempos), on Thursday, staged a protest at the Mini Secretariat here after the district transport department impounded about 10 tempos running without permits during the past some days.
The protesters also parked their vehicles at the site of the protest. The transport department has claimed that it has impounded the tempos plying on the roads without route permits as per the high court order. But, protesters demanded the renewal of their permits instead.
Permits of many three-wheelers have expired as the government stopped renewing them in 2012. "There are about 150 tempos in the district and permits of about 100 of them have expired. Now the district transport officials are stopping us from driving on roads because we have no permits. But, we are paying our taxes as per rules," claimed Tarsem Lal alias Pappu, president of the three-wheeler operators union."
"A case has been pending in the Supreme Court regarding the renewal of our permits. This is a question of our survival as we are fully dependent on the earnings from three- wheelers. Besides, we also provide a facility to thousands of residents of villages, not connected with bus routes. This is an arbitrary action by the state government, which has filed to protect our interests and has, instead, helped promote the powerful mini bus operators," said Tarsem Lal.
The protesters said, "We have been plying tempos on village link roads for many years and are not able to run some other business all of a sudden. The government should provide us some other alternative and only then the tempos should be banned in a phased manner," said one of the protesters.
Though three-wheelers are an inseparable part of the rural life, yet they are also infamous for many traffic violations and risky drives. "These three-wheelers or tempos are only permitted for seven persons, but, most of the time, they carry about 30 to 40 passengers in violation of the traffic norms. Many do not complete other required formalities too such as pollution certificates, insurance and payment of road tax. They also put lives of many people in danger this way," said a source in the transport department.
Dr NS Brar, district transport officer, said that three-wheelers are being impounded because they are plying without any permits and paying taxes." The transport department is only ensuring the implementation of the high court order. If we do not follow the orders of the high court, we may have to face contempt proceedings. The issue has nothing to do with the administration at the district level because it is the verdict of the high court," he added.