‘Don’t delay or create hurdles in inter-state movement of goods’: Gadkari tells states
States must take urgent action to remove blockades for the movement of trucks at inter-state borders Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari told state transport ministers on Tuesday.
The union minister pulled up state governments for creating delays in clearance of goods transport adding that nearly 3.5 lakh trucks were stranded at present due to delays in inter-state clearance and screening, officials aware of the development said adding that there was no discussion on inter-state public transport.
“States also reiterated that decision on public transport will be taken following the ministry of home affairs’ order post May 3,” the official said.
In a video conference with state transport ministers on Tuesday, Gadkari said states need to take urgent action so that blockades for trucks and lorries at inter-state borders are cleared at the earliest possible for smooth movement of essential goods to various parts of the country.
“Ministers need to intervene in such matters and ensure resolutions through the local/district administrations. At the same time, adhere to health advisories and other guidelines like proper distance, wearing of masks, use of sanitizers, both by the driver/cleaners and also at the dhabaas,” Gadkari said.
The meeting was also attended by the chief Ministers of Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh. “There were several issues on movement of goods and transportation that needed to be resolved. There is delay in supply movement and hence the meeting was called to discuss the hurdles. There was no discussion on public transport yet, that will only take place on May 3,” Himachal Pradesh transport minister, Govind Thakur said.
Gadkari also told states to provide transportation for labour to factories and ensure food and shelter for labourers. Transport associations have demanded an economic package and relief from the Centre since the lockdown. “Across segments there is an issue of shortage of drivers, money and load. Lack of labour is leaving vehicles stranded and has already led to shortage of supplies. Movement of vehicles is still a major issue despite MHA advisories. E-pass system is not working properly and movement of staff apart from drivers is still a tedious task. Local restrictions are not helping the transport fraternity as there is no fresh load, no unloading at the factories, go-downs or warehouses and the our vehicles get stuck for days together, apart from harassment by local administration,” All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) president Kultaran Singh Atwal said.
“Screening process at inter-state borders has left several trucks stranded. There is screening process at interstate borders, e.g. Barobhisha Border (Bengal–Assam Border). There are long queues up to 6-7 kilometres and the drivers and crew are stranded without food and water,” he added.
The Centre has also told states that top priority will be according to construction of national highways during the lockdown period. In a presentation made on the status of work being undertaken since the lockdown during the transport ministers’ conference it was stated stated that 1315 projects covering 49,238 km worth Rs 5.8 trillion (Rs 5,89,648 crore) were under progress, of which 819 projects covering 30,301 km costing as high as Rs 3.06 trillion (Rs 3,06,250 crore) were delayed.
It also showed state-specific issues like pending land acquisition, environment clearance etc which have been delaying the project implementation. The participating states were suggested to take definitive steps towards mitigating the difficulties.
Gadkari informed that he was according top priority for National Highway construction by 2 to 3 times of the present pace in the next couple of years. He urged the states to expedite land acquisition and asked them to utilize funds which are remaining unused with them, which have been estimated at about Rs 25,000 crore, according to the transport ministry. States also requested the Centre to expedite highway projects.
Responding to a suggestion by a state minister, Gadkari said the ministry will start a helpline to resolve the transportation issues.
Gadkari also suggested that states should explore operationalising app-based two-wheeler taxis especially in rural areas which will assist farming communities with smoother movement. This will also provide new employment opportunities, Gadkari said.