Maharashtra lockdown: Transporters fear disruption in services, demand relaxation in e-way bill rules

trucking industry

With the country in a renewed tussle with the coronavirus pandemic, newer restrictions are now coming up to contain the peak in cases.

India detected more than one lakh Covid-19 cases on Sunday, the highest daily increase recorded in the country since the beginning of the pandemic.

Of the 103,558 cases India counted on Sunday, over 57,700 infections were reported from Maharashtra.

The surge in Covid-19 cases prompted Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday to announce new guidelines for the state.

The state government has issued a slew of new restrictions, including night curfews, weekend lockdowns and daytime prohibitions, to control the spread of the disease.  

As per the new norms that were implemented from 8pm on Monday, complete lockdown has been issued on weekends from 8pm Friday to 7am Monday, with only essential services permitted.

The night curfew (from 8pm to 7am) to be prevalent throughout the week, allows for stepping out only for emergency/essential work. While, during the day, gathering of 5 or more persons not allowed (Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

A bane for transporters

The new lockdown guidelines in Maharashtra have now led to disarray in transportation-related activities, leading to mounting fears that it will cripple the supply chain of the state.

As per the guidelines, trucks are not allowed to step inside Mumbai before 9pm, while offices are supposed to be shut down by 8pm. This has led to major problems in same-day dispatches and also added to the existing grievances of the transporters, says Chirag Katira, General Secretary- Maharashtra, All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC).

Mr Katira underlines the issues that have surfaced due to the new lockdown guidelines. The new guidelines have put a curb on traffic timings, which has led to major delays in transportation and added to the burden of the truckers.

Mr Katira demanded that the issued rules for traffic timings should be lifted.

“Drivers perform the majority of their activities at night. During the day, they are either asleep or in search of materials. Their major work begins at night. How can drivers work, if you impose restrictions at night?”, he asked.

Mr Katira strongly urged the government that transporters should be exempted from the curbs because of the gravity of the work they are indulged in.

“We have been asked to close our godowns by 8 pm, which will only lead to subsequent delays in our activities,” he warned.

E-Way Bills expiry

Mr Katira also shed light on how the transporters should be exempted from E-way bill penalty as the existing conditions do not allow the validity of the bill to be utilised fully.

“The Centre needs to issue relief to the transporters from E-way bill penalty. Now is not the time to think about money, but to instead recognize the crucial role that the transporters’ community is fulfilling.

“Due to the existing guidelines, 400 E-way bills have expired as of Monday. It is not possible to update it and we cannot expect our customers to do it either.” Mr Katira adds.

“We urge the government to exempt us from the E-way bill penalty and change the existing condition from 200km/day to 100 km/day.”

~Chirag Katira, General Secretary- Maharashtra, All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC)

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