With a severe shortage of heavy vehicle drivers threatening to hit the operations, an association of truckers and transporters has appealed to the State government to relax the educational qualification norm for the driving licence.

“Only eighth class pass can apply for a heavy vehicle driving licence. We want Tamil Nadu government to not insist on this norm. Some other States have already relaxed this in view of the shortage of drivers,” S.Yuvaraj, State Treasurer of the Confederation of Surface Transport Tamil Nadu.

The Confederation is part of the All India Motor Transport Congress, which on Thursday announced that it has decided to defer its indefinite suspension of operations. It followed several meetings with the State government, including one on Thursday with Transport Minister, in which the vehicle owners were assured that their demands would be looked into. The relaxation in the educational qualification norm is one of the demands.

Home Secretary and the Minister, a statement from the Confederation president R.Sukumar said, had agreed to form a high level committee to discuss and solve the problems. The indefinite agitation was scheduled to start from midnight of August 30, but with the assurance the truckers decided to defer it by three months.

Elaborating on the driver shortage, Mr.Yuvaraj said it was becoming acute in the wake of increased incidence of HIV among truck crew in Salem and Namakkal, which form the transport belt of the State.

Previously, families used to send their school drop out sons as cleaners and over the years they used to learn driving. Many young boys, who joined as cleaners, became drivers and then lorry owners, he said. But with the scare of contracting HIV, many families no longer permit their boys become truck crew. It is in this context, the association wants the State government to relax the norm.

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