MVD, police on different pages in penalising overloaded lorries

The lack of cohesive action by two key enforcement agencies, the police and the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD), has resulted in most cases of blatant overloading by goods carriers going undetected in Kerala, despite its grave implications on the safety of road users and the durability of roads.

The issue is once again in the limelight, with the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) netting over ₹10 lakh as fine from 84 heavily overloaded lorries in ‘Operation Overload’ that its personnel carried out recently. The VACB claimed that it embarked on the special drive targeting overloaded lorries in the wake of widespread complaints of lorries, including those that carry wooden logs, ferrying over double the permitted weight. It also singled out MVD personnel for letting overloaded vehicles proceed after levying a ‘namesake’ fine amount.

The agency cited how it seized 38 lorries which were found to be grossly overloaded, up to 27 tonnes, and handed them over to MVD personnel for further action.

Dual treatment

Admitting that the MVD and the police were oftentimes on different pages on imposing fines on overloaded goods carriers, a senior MVD official said its personnel impose hefty fines as mandated by the amendments to the Central Motor Vehicles Act, to act as a deterrent. “But the police mostly invoke lighter provisions of the Act and let off even visibly overloaded lorries and other goods carriers after levying a token fine. This dual treatment by personnel of two departments for the same offence defeats the very purpose of the legislation. The law further mandates that such vehicles be permitted to proceed only after unloading the overload,” he added.

Another MVD official pointed out that there are weigh bridges approximately every 10 km in the State, where such lorries can be weighed. The law permits only up to 5% load in excess of the permitted load-bearing capacity. A fine of ₹10,000 can be imposed for any load beyond this and ₹1,500 per additional tonne, he said and showed proof of how MVD personnel imposed ₹97,750 as fine (ranging from ₹5,000 to ₹28,250) on a lorry for six instances of overloading, while the police imposed a total of just ₹2,250 (₹250 per instance) as fines for nine such violations.

The safety implications of overloading include weak braking power and damage to the vehicle. It also causes more air pollution since the engine has to carry much more load. Its main societal implication is that other lorry operators are denied trips to carry the load, he said.

A senior traffic police official said its personnel were hamstrung by two aspects, non-availability of weigh bridges in close proximity and the near-absence of weigh bridges which can weigh over 35-tonne loads. “This is one reason why offenders are most often let off with minimal fine.”

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2022 8:51:01 pm |