Justice For Highway Heroes !
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A soldier fighting on the borders of our country is our hero; because he has opted a life which is full of risks, means being away from his family, practice hard discipline with the possibility of losing his life. His incentive is a feeling that he is protecting his country. His reward is that he gets handsome salary and perks, good life during peace times, pension on retirement or death and finally a recognition by his country when he becomes a martyr. Undoubtedly a soldier is our hero; the Border Hero!
What about a truck driver ? Is he not contributing to the nation in a big way? Will any factory function in this country if their raw material in not brought inwards and their finished products are not moved outwards to their point of further consumption? Will the mining of minerals like iron ore, bauxite, and other ores will serve any purpose if not moved to a plant of metal extraction out of those? Will a farmer’s produce be of any use when that gets perished at the place of producing due to non-movement by trucks? Will our defense be effective if all supplies in their logistics network stop? How will any citizen of this country survive without getting their daily supplies of grains, milk, food, newspapers, medicines and every thig else which exists as material? In spite of such supreme importance, is a truck driver treated as a National Hero?
Let us discuss how are they treated in our country. Most of the truck drivers in our country come from a poor background and without education. They become truck driver because they find no other jobs. They start their life as a helper to an established truck driver. Their training on a truck is not formal; they learn driving by doing all personal services to their boss. Coming to their work life; they are away from their family for long durations depending upon the routes assigned and the delay in getting return loads. They are not only the drivers of the truck; but also the custodians of the material loaded on their trucks. This additional responsibility keeps them alert all the time. They can not get a break for a proper sleep in between as there are no facilities on highways. They sleep inside their trucks. They eat food in road side joints; or else by cooking themselves using the stove and utensils they carry. They don’t get facilities on lengthy highways to respond to call of nature. They have to suppress the same which causes damage to their health. No proper sleep, rest, food, toilet etc. make them sick. And all the time the risk of losing life in a accident looms on their heads.
Coming to the treatment meted out to them! When he is driving on a road or highway, any policeman can stop him by waving his hand. In normal circumstances he will collect some money from him for no violation, exercising his power over the hapless truck driver. When the truck driver crosses a state border, there is a regular practice of collecting a hefty amount properly termed as ENTRY from him by the RTO or his goons. In case of non-payment he is slapped with various charges which are never practiced in India. If he raises his voice to protest, he is roughed up by the officers and their goons. There are large numbers of videos available on internet of such atrocities.
Tax Officers, financing companies and anyone with some power may stop the vehicles. They don’t hesitate in manhandling a driver. They express their authority by slapping a poor truck driver even though he has no role in tax of goods or loan payment of his truck. He may get detained on highway for several days without being provided any shelter or food.
There are criminals who operate on highways. For them the easiest prey is a truck driver as his is normally alone or at the most with his trainee counterpart. A truck driver carries goods which could be worth several crores also. If he is attacked by a jeep full of highway criminals, he has only two options- either surrender to their demands or face death as they come equipped with arms and ammunitions. There are thousand of records available of such murders on highway.
In case of an accident, which could be due to his negligence or by someone else driving on highway; he may lose his life. In case he is live, then there are high chances that he may bleed to death as people in our country do not want to get involved. Even if he is carried to a hospital, the hospital does not start any procedure on various grounds like police complaint etc . Though “ who will make the payment” is generally the hidden reason behind all other reasons of such hospitals.
If a driver survives in an accident or an attempt of theft, he is expected to report to the nearest police station. He gets an extremely unfriendly reception at all such police stations. In case of thefts the jurisdiction is the easiest reason for rejection of recording the FIR. Many a times, the driver is accused to be an accomplish of criminals. He is made to run from pillar to post from one police station to other until he is attended by his employer or the transport company.
Prime Minsiter and Finance Minister has a vision of achieving three trillion economy; will that be possible without having adequate workforce on highways. A truck driver is an invisible link of the GDP of the nation. All India Transporters’ Welfare association ( AITWA) has taken this challenge to bring about a major shift in the life of a truck driver. AITWA wants to bring about a campaign in the country for masses awareness.
We have submitted following demands to government of India for the Highway Heroes-
1.SAARTHI CARD- All truck drivers should be issued a Saarthi Card by Central Government as their unique identity as a truck driver. The card may carry their name, home address, driving license number , Aadhar No., Aayushman Bharat registration number, their blood group and one emergency contact number. This card should become their reference point in all driver related schemes.
SAARTHI RAJMARG SURAKSHA YOJNA – Truck drivers who meet an accident on the highways or falls sick due to any other reasons should get admission in any nearby hospital- private or Government without any payment or deposit. Their SAARTHI CARD should decide their status as a truck driver. The cost of the treatment till discharge or death should be paid under AAYUSHMAN BHARAT yojna. A suitable allocation should be provided under the scheme for nearly One crore truck drivers and their families under the AB scheme in the forthcoming budget. The SAARTHI CARD should also facilitate the benefits of AAYUSHMAN BHARAT to the family members of the truck drivers.
2.SAARTHI RAJMARG VISHRAM YOJNA- A truck driver needs good amount of rest, toilet facilities with shower, hygienic and healthy food, sleep along with secured parking for his vehicle and the material which is loaded on the trucks. One or more ambulance equipped with emergency facilities and a list of nearest hospitals may be parked at all such centers to meet any accidental emergency within the pitched radius. We urge the Government to plan such SAARTHI VISHRAM GRAH at a pitch of about 100 kilometers on all national highway.
These are possible with Private Companies’ participation. Land and permissions should be given by the Government free of charge and the infrastructure should be created on lines of a standard model which may be created to replicate at all centers. Such investments by private companies should be allowed under the scope of expenditures in CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. These Vishram Grah should be made self-reliant by providing rental income from space for petrol pumps and food courts.
3.SAARTHI FLOATING PROVIDENT FUND- a large percentage of Truck drivers’ being free lancers or being employed by small fleet owners are deprived of any Provident Fund. The trucks are engaged by transport companies on trip basis. If a floating PF account is introduced to a truck driver on the basis of his SAARTHI CARD, he may avail of provident fund benefit on the basis of a prescribed rate of PF on per km of trip basis. The transport companies may deposit the prescribed PF amount in the PF bank account of driver, calculated on the basis of kilometers of trip. This mechanism will also help transport companies who are often harassed for not paying any PF into drivers’ nonexistent PF account.
4. SAARTHI FLOATING ESI FUND – A scheme similar to floating PF may be formulated for ESI coverage of Truck Drivers.
5. SAARTHI SAMMAN NIDHI YOJNA- Please provide financial assistance to a truck driver if he wants to purchase his own truck. This will make him self employed and will be an incentive for him to involve his next generation in his transport business. ( Similar to Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna proposed in BJP manifesto )
6. SAARTHI PENSION YOJNA- Please provide pension to all truck drivers on reaching 60 years of age or on death or being disabled during a road accident so as to ensure social security to them. ( Similar to Scheme for small and marginal farmers proposed in BJP manifesto)
7. SAARTHI INTEREST FREE CREDIT CARD- Please provide interest free credit card upto Rs. 1 lakh at a 0% interest rate for 1 year to enable him to survive on national highways, on the condition of prompt payment of principal amount. Card may be renewed on payment of 100% before expiry period. (Similar to Scheme for small and marginal farmers proposed in BJP manifesto)
Jai Jawan Jai Kisan ! Jai Saarthi Jai Bharti !!!
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