Ensure smooth movement of trucks with essentials: Nitin Gadkari tells states
Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday asked the states to act urgently to remove blockades for the smooth movement of trucks carrying essential goods along inter-state borders. In a video conference with state transport ministers, Gadkari said the clearances should be ensured at the earliest for the purpose.
Gadkari pulled up the states for delaying the clearances and said nearly 3.5 lakh trucks were stuck because of it at inter-state borders, officials aware of the matter said. The officials said there was no discussion on the resumption of inter-state public transport at the meeting.
Gadkari told the ministers that they need to intervene in such matters and ensure resolution of issues through the local and district administrations. “At the same time, adhere to health advisories and other guidelines like proper [social] distancing, wearing of masks, use of sanitizers, both by the driver and cleaners and also at the dhabaas [roadside restaurants],” Gadkari said.
Himachal Pradesh’s transport minister, Govind Thakur, said there were several issues related to the movement of goods and transportation that needed to be resolved. “There is delay in movement and hence the meeting was called to discuss the hurdles. There was no discussion on public transport yet, which will only take place on May 3 [when the extended Covid-19 lockdown ends],” Thakur said.
Responding to a suggestion by a state minister, Gadkari said his ministry will start a helpline to resolve the transportation issues. Gadkari suggested the states should explore the operationalisation of app-based two-wheeler taxis, especially in rural areas, to assist farming communities with smoother movement. “This will also provide new employment opportunities,” Gadkari said.
Gadkari said he will accord top priority for national highway construction by two to three times the present pace over the next couple of years. He urged the states to expedite land acquisition and utilise funds that have remained unused.
All India Motor Transport Congress president Kultaran Singh Atwal said the movement of vehicles remains a major issue despite the Centre’s advisories. “The e-pass system is not working properly and the movement of staff apart from drivers is still a tedious task. Local restrictions are not helping the transport fraternity. There is no fresh load, no unloading at the factories, godowns or warehouses. Our vehicles also get stuck up for days together apart from harassment by local administration,” said Atwal He added the screening process at inter-state borders has left trucks stranded. “There is screening process at interstate borders... There are long queues up to 6-7 kilometres and the drivers and crew are stranded without food and water.”