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Transporters in State sore over speed governor rule

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Anil Kumar Sastry

They fear that goods consigners will prefer services of faster vehicles from other States

Two months’ time was given for installation of speed governors

Lorry owners’ warn of stir against its implementation

BANGALORE: The State Transport Department’s move to finally enforce installation of speed governors on all transport vehicles from January 1, 2008 has received mixed reaction. While goods vehicle operators have long opposed the rule saying it should be implemented uniformly across the country, State-owned transport corporations have welcomed the same.

Strike threat

Members of Federation of Karnataka State Lorry Owners’ and Agents’ Associations, who met in Chitradurga on Thursday, decided to approach the Governor with the plea of uniform enforcement. “If the government does not defer the enforcement, we will be forced to launch a State-wide strike taking three lakh goods carriers off the roads,” federation president G.R. Shanmugappa told The Hindu over phone.

Mr. Shanmugappa said as speed governors are not mandatory in neighbouring States, goods carriers from Karnataka will be in a disadvantageous position vis-À-vis their counterparts. As non-Karnataka vehicles move faster, goods consigners will naturally prefer their services, hitting hard Karnataka operators.

However, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and its sister concerns — the North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation, the North East Karnataka Road Transport Corporation and the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) — will be happy to install the device on their vehicles.

KSRTC Director M.A. Saleem told The Hindu that safety of passengers was paramount for the corporations. Reduction in speed will hardly affect the journey time. He further said KSRTC has urged the government to fix a higher speed limit (about 80 km an hour) for its hi-tech Volvo buses.

On the other hand, the new buses being inducted to BMTC fleet come with inbuilt speed governors and there was no need for additional installation, its Managing Director Upendra Tripathy said.

Tourist taxi operators a worried lot as limiting the speed will hit them hard. One of the operators, who did not want to be identified, said people prefer taxis over other modes of transport to reach their destination fast.

He said tourists who wish to visit a few places of tourist importance within a short duration will also be affected if the speed is limited.

There were also arguments that limiting the speed of transport vehicles will encourage use of private modes of transport such as cars.

Room for corruption

An automobile dealer said speed governors are not tamper-proof and once the vehicle gets registered, the owner/ driver can always tamper with the gadget. Thus, it does not serve any purpose. Also, the rule offers one more reason for transport department officials to collect bribe, he alleged.

The dealer further said at least 25 lakh transport vehicles in the State need to install speed governors, which cost around Rs. 15,000. He alleged that the rule was being made mandatory to help gadget manufacturers for extraneous considerations.

The Transport Department, on its part, maintained that it was merely enforcing the provision in the Central Motor Vehicle Rules.

Principal Secretary to Government (Transport) D. Thangaraj told The Hindu that goods vehicle operators unsuccessfully challenged the rule before the Karnataka High Court. The court not only dismissed their plea, but also directed the government to strictly enforce the rule, he added.

Adequate time

Transport Commissioner M. Lakshminarayana said vehicle owners have been given enough time to get the gadgets installed in their vehicles. Regarding pan-India enforcement of the rule, Mr. Thangaraj said the matter was under Union government’s consideration.

S.K. Behra, Under Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, said that some amendments, including mandatory installation of speed governors in transport vehicles, proposed to the Motor Vehicles Act had been referred to a sub-committee.

The Ministry, Mr. Behra said, would enforce the rule across the country in the near future.

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