The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a warning to the federal government, the states, and the union territories to defend the interests of truck drivers after seeing that their legal entitlements are not given enough consideration. The recommendation has advised that the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 be revised to require the purchase of personal accident insurance for each driver, co-driver, and helper of a commercial truck in an amount not less than Rs 15 lakh.
The NHRC has written to the Union ministries and departments, chief secretaries of states, and administrators of UTs, asking them to implement its recommendations in the advisory and has sought an Action Taken Report ‘within three months.
Some of the other recommendations include providing cashless treatment to drivers, co-drivers, and helpers injured or incapacitated in road accidents, establishing and regularly maintaining driver rest stops and lay byes consisting of parking areas, furnished restrooms, and restaurants providing food and beverages at reasonable rates, mechanic shops, medicine shops, doctor’s clinics, etc. At regular intervals, not exceeding 40 kilometers, along national highways and at prominent locations along the state highways and other major district roads.
“Establish fully equipped Trauma Centers at regular intervals along highways to extend emergency to victims of road accidents. Launch a special drive to create awareness and register all truck drivers, co-drivers, and helpers on the e-Shram portal to avail benefits of Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-ABJAY) as well as Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PM-JJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PM-SBY) and Old Age Protection under Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mann Dhan (PM- SYMD), “read the advisory.
NHRC chairman Justice Arun Mishra had chaired a Core Group meeting on Business and Human Rights on issues of commercial truck drivers and had expressed serious concerns over the plight of commercial truck drivers and suggested collaborative, pragmatic, and implementable solutions to safeguard their rights.
The NHRC has also proposed to launch a Group Insurance Scheme providing for life as well as health cover for truck drivers on payment of a nominal subsidized subscription and minimizing physical interface between truck drivers and law enforcement agencies by providing online facilities for auto-generation of challans for over-speeding, grant and renewal of registration and fitness certificates, permits and licenses, payment of taxes and penalties only online besides storage of vehicle-related documents.
“Installation of speed cameras at regular intervals along highways for detection besides mandatory installation of vehicle location tracking devices in each truck to track and detect overspeeding. Establish an online portal and a round the clock helpline to receive complaints along with evidence (photographic, video graphics , and documentary) from truck drivers, “it said.
Other recommendations include the deployment of highway patrols in areas vulnerable to exploitation by anti-social elements, formulation of an SOP to govern the seizure of trucks, and arrest of drivers, co-drivers, and helpers in cases involving road accidents, overloading , and violation of other laws.
“The SOP may contain inter-alia an exhaustive list of cases where the arrest of drivers or seizure of truck may be made,” it read. It also suggested the institution of awards and cash incentives to honor drivers observing responsible driving.
While issuing the advisory, the commission has observed that despite making a significant contribution to the nation’s economy, truck drivers’ rightful entitlements do not get adequate attention, as the truck business remains fragmented and unorganized.
It also said that the majority of truck drivers do not get social security benefits such as provident funds, pension, health insurance, life insurance, gratuity, etc.
With inputs from PTI