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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 24 July 2024

Call for crackdown on overloading: Body of truck operators write to CM about revenue loss and damage to roads

A section of truck operators said the code the chief minister referred to was about certain names that would remain pasted on the sides of overloaded trucks

Kinsuk Basu Calcutta Published 15.06.24, 07:04 AM
action needed

action needed

The Bengal government is losing out on revenues amounting to crores of rupees because of overloading by a section of goods vehicle operators who carry sand and stone in connivance with a section of officials, an association of truck operators has written to chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

The letter, which was sent on Thursday, points out that "dishonest truck operators" and several goods vehicle drivers were carrying sand and stone chips without valid documents, including e-challans, on roads cutting through Birbhum, Bankura, East Burdwan, West Burdwan, Murshidabad and Nadia districts in south Bengal. The practice is prevalent in Dhupguri, Mainaguri, Chanrabandha, Fulbari, Malbazar and Binnaguri in north Bengal also, the letter says.

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"Madam, kindly take necessary legal and administrative action to stop this kind of overloading and unlawful activities immediately to save the roads, highways and bridges from more possible damage and losing revenue for the government and the harassment of honest and laborious truck operators on the roads by some dishonest police personnel in various districts of West Bengal also to save transport industry of West Bengal," the letter states.

A copy of the letter, which bears the signature of Sajal Ghosh, secretary of the Federation of West Bengal Truck Operators' Association, has also been sent to the transport minister, the director general of police and the chief of the state's traffic police.

The letter comes within days of Mamata expressing her displeasure over a section of police officers allegedly collecting money from overloaded trucks. A code is being used for this, the chief minister had said at a recent administrative review meeting.

A section of truck operators said the code the chief minister referred to was about certain names that would remain pasted on the sides of overloaded trucks.

"Names like SBL, Rahul Raj, Waris and SRL would be written on trucks to imply the ownership of vehicles. This is for a group comprising police officers, motor vehicle inspectors and officials of the land department, who are on the monthly payroll of the operators," said a truck operator.

"If a truck driver is carrying stuff over and above the specified capacity of a 16-wheeler truck, he has to pay between 5,500 and 6,000 per trip. Policemen on night duty on the highways and thoroughfares usually collect the amount."

In August 2021, the Bengal government revised the penalty for overloading from 2,000 to 20,000 with 2,000 per extra tonne while relaxing the axle load of trucks by 25 per cent.

"Since then, we have been writing to the chief minister to expose how the overloading of trucks is continuing. Such practice damages roads and results in the loss of revenue," said Subhas Chandra Bose, the president of the Federation of West Bengal Truck Operators' Association.

"Now that she has raised her concern over the overloading of goods vehicles, we have decided to inform her about the state of affairs through a fresh letter."

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