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Govt considering insurance scheme for truck drivers: Gen (Retd) VK Singh

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on April 13, 2020

VK Singh, Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways   -  PTI

The government is working on an insurance scheme for truck drivers and helpers, indicated Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Gen (Retd) VK Singh, during an interaction with members of industry body PHDCCI on Monday morning.

He was responding to a query from one of the industry officials on whether the government can work out a low cost insurance scheme for truck drivers and labourers.

Earlier, several transport bodies including All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) have already asked the government to consider an insurance scheme of ₹ 50 lakh for truck drivers. The drivers, like doctors, are frontline workers who put their life at risk, they argued.

Singh said the government is keen to get business back on track while ensuring India does not end up facing a US-like situation.

HOW TO PAY SALARIES TO LABOURERS

Singh also said the government would like to discuss how the industry could pay workers. He said the industry could pay at least 50 per cent salaries to their workers now, while the remaining can be paid later. "We have to start taking steps to restart economic activity," said Singh, adding that States are taking steps specific to their requirement. For instance, Assam has decided to open its tea gardens to prevent labourers from leaving the estates.

PAY SUBCONTRACTORS

He further requested that larger companies should clear payments to their subcontractors, who employ labourers. He said that it has come to the government's notice that several companies are holding payments (of ₹ 2-4 crore) to their subcontractors. How will labourers be paid if their payments are held back, asked Singh, adding, "Please pass it on."

While the Home Ministry notification of April 12 permits movement, including inter-state, of several goods, the situation on the ground is very different, reiterated several company officials present in the meeting. They requested for inter-state movement e-permits, waiver of detention charges at ports, airports and rail sidings. They added that several trucks, stuck on highways should be allowed to reach their destinations.

Some asked for freight rates to be lowered through a diesel subsidy.

Meanwhile, several PHDCCI stakeholders sought moratoriums on repayment of their loans and or interest on repayment on loans to Non Banking Financial Companies and external lenders. PHDCCI's President DK Aggarwal asked the government to roll out a financial package of ₹ 11 lakh crores. The government has already rolled out a financial package of ₹ 2 lakh crore.

Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training’s (IFTRT) SP Singh maintained that while a lot of supply side issues can be taken care following the Home Ministry notification, challenges remain in demand side issues.

Published on April 13, 2020

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