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NHRC issues Advisory to the Centre, States,UTs to protect human rights of Commercial Truck Drivers

New Delhi (Global News) The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India, headed by Mr. Justice Arun Mishra, has issued an Advisory to the Centre, States and UT Administrations to protect the human rights of commercial truck drivers. Prior to this, chairing the Core Group meeting on Business and Human Rights on the issues of commercial truck drivers, he had expressed serious concerns over the plight of commercial truck drivers and suggested collaborative, pragmatic and implementable solutions to safeguard their rights.

Issuing the Advisory, the Commission has observed that despite making the significant contribution to the economy of the nation, the rightful entitlements of the truck drivers do not get adequate attention, as the truck business remains fragmented and unorganised.

Majority of the truck drivers do not get social security benefits such as provident fund, pension, health insurance, life insurance, gratuity, etc. long working hours, lack of adequate rest and sleep, long absence from family, low salary, non-availability of clean and healthy food in time, constant threat of exploitation by law enforcement agencies and anti-social elements and high risk of road accidents makes the truck drivers prone to physical and mental stress, drug addiction and irresponsible sexual behaviour.

The Commission, in a letter through its Secretary General, Mr. Devendra Kumar Singh to the Secretaries of concerned Union Ministries/Departments, Chief Secretaries of States and Administrators of Union Territories, has asked for the implementation of its recommendations in the Advisory and sought Action Taken Report within three months.

The Advisory has focused on four key areas for action by the Centre, States and UT Administrations. These include: Protection from exploitation, Provision of amenities to the drivers, provision of Socio Economic Security and the Physical & Mental well being of the commercial truck drivers.

Some of the important recommendations, among others, are as follows

  • Amend the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 to provide for mandatory purchase of personal accident cover for an amount not less than Rs. 15 lakh for each driver, co-driver and helper of a commercial truck;

  • Provide cashless treatment to drivers, co-drivers and helpers injured or incapacitated in road accidents;

  • Establish and regularly maintain driver rest stops and lay byes consisting of parking area, furnished rest rooms, toilets/wash rooms, restaurants providing food and beverages at reasonable rates in clean hygienic environment, mechanic shops, medicine shops, doctor’s clinics, etc. at regular intervals, not exceeding 40 kilometres, along National Highways and at prominent locations along the State Highways and other major district roads;

  • Establish fully equipped Trauma Centres 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 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);

  • Launch a Group Insurance Scheme providing for life as well as health cover for truck drivers on payment of a nominal subsidised subscription;

  • Minimise 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 & fitness certificates, permits and licenses, payment of taxes & 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 over speeding;

  • Establish an online portal and a round the clock helpline to receive complaints along with evidence (photographic, videographic and documentary) from truck drivers;

  • Deployment of highway patrols in the areas vulnerable to exploitation by anti-social elements;

  • Formulate a SoP to govern seizure of trucks and arrest of drivers, co-drivers and helpers in cases involving road accident, overloading and violation of other laws. The SoP may contain inter-alia an exhaustive list of cases where arrest of drivers or seizure of truck may be made;

  • Institute award and cash incentives to honour drivers observing responsible driving;

  • Make appropriate rules to the effect that earmarking of adequate land for establishment of truck terminals at appropriate locations shall be an essential requirement for approval of a Master Plan for Towns and Industrial areas.