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ROAD TRANSPORT STRIKE

WHY IN NEWS?

  • Recently, the three-day strike has been launched by road transport drivers to protest against the newly enacted Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS).

MORE ABOUT THE NEWS:

  • The Maharashtra government has urged police to ensure an uninterrupted supply of petrol, diesel, and LPG cylinders.
  • In Chhattisgarh, large number of private bus drivers announced a strike, leaving commuters stranded at bus stations in Raipur, Bilaspur, Durg, and Rajnandgaon.
  • The Centre is yet to engage the various stakeholders while the state governments are busy in ensuring that the strike does not affect the public at large.

WHY ARE TRUCKERS PROTESTING ?

  • The provisions under the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita passed in the winter session of Parliament, provide for jail terms of up to 10 years, which was two years earlier or a ₹7 lakh fine if any driver flees an accident spot or fails to report the incident.
  • According to transporters this provision will discourage people from taking up trucking as a profession. Already the trucks- to-driver ratio has come down to 1:0.65.
  • They argue that truck drivers are often unfairly targeted in case of an accident and they are often forced to flee.
  • According to protestors, drivers flee not to evade arrest but to save their lives from angry crowds.
  • They argue that the law was passed without consultation with stakeholders.

PROVISIONS OF NEW LAW:

  • “Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine,” according to the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita.

ANALYSING THE CONCERNS OF ROAD TRANSPORT:

  • There is seen an 11% increase in road accidents in 2022 at 446,768 and also 10% increase in fatalities at 171,100.
  • Pedestrians and two- wheeler riders accounted for 60% of the total deaths while truck tanker drivers made up less than 9%.

  • National highways, with merely 2.1% of the country’s road network, accounted for large 30.5% of accidents and 35% of fatalities.
  • Trucks may be playing a role in the fatalities mentioned above.
  • While there are around 4 million trucks on the road in India, there aren’t as many drivers.
  • In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the trucks- to-driver ratio stood at 1:1.3. This ratio has come down to 1:0.65 today.
  • As a result, around 25-28% of trucks in India are lying idle at any point in time.
  • Attrition among drivers is also very high as around 60% truck drivers work for less than 15 years in the industry.
  • Thus, there is a criticality of road transport if drivers are reluctant to do their job.

IMPACT OF TRUCKERS STRIKE:

  • The immediate impact was felt on fuel availability with around 2,000 pumps running out of petrol very early.
  • There was also the news of panic buying among public, further pushing the prices of few commodities
  • Protestors have blockaded roads and highways across states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh.
  • The blocking up of roads and highways has affected vehicle movement and fuel supply.
  • Later, the AIMTC ,the umbrella body of transporters has asked the truck and tanker drivers to get back to work and the situation started to normalize soon.

IMPORTANCE OF ROAD TRANSPORT SECTOR IN ECONOMY:

  • Road transport accounts for 3.6% of the country’s GDP.
  • It also serves 85% of India’s passenger traffic borne by buses apart from 70% of the freight movement by trucks.
  • This share has gone up as more highways and expressways have come up.
  • Except bulk commodities like coal, iron ore and steel, most other freight in the country is transported by trucks and lorries.
  • The road transport has a particularly higher share in perishables like fruit, vegetables, dairy products and food.
  • In just two days, prices of some of these products have started to inch up.

WAY FORWARD:

The Union Home secretary’s words that final decision to be taken only after consultation with AIMTC came as a relief to road transport sector.

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