CHANDIGARH: There are around 134 truck unions in Punjab that control over 70,000 trucks being operated in the state. Now with Bhagwant Mann-led AAP Government coming to power in the state, their 'favourites' want control of these unions.
In the last week, five clashes have taken place across the state in which thirty people have been injured. These clashes of controlling the truck unions are not new as such incidents take place every time a new government comes to power.
In 2017, three people died around forty were injured in order to take control of the truck unions in Punjab thus the then Capt. Amarinder Singh-led government banned truck unions in the state. But when Charanjit Singh Channi became the Chief Minister he reinstated them in January this year.
Since the AAP Government has come to power in the state on March 27, there have been clashes at five places till now, Abohar, Bhawanigarh, Jaito, Moga, and Sadiq. Around thirty people have been injured.
As alleged, the people owing allegiance to AAP wanted to take control of these truck unions and thus leading to these fights.
The latest incident was in Abohar on Monday where two factions of AAP clashed to take control of the truck union in which four people were injured as one group was allegedly supported by a newly elected MLA.
Out of the 134 unions, control of over 30 unions, all of them in the Malwa region, have been taken over by the people considered close to the present regime.
"Most of the people who have taken over them have no experience of operating trucks and nor are not truck owners," said a truck operator on condition of anonymity.
After the clashes and deaths in 2017, the then Congress Government led by Amarinder Singh passed Punjab Goods Carriages (Regulation and prevention of Cartelisation) Rules prohibiting truck operators from forming cartels in the state.
During the ten-year rule of the then SAD-BJP Government, the people close to them took control of these unions.
Sources said that these unions provide muscle, money and power to the local leaders. Thus, the party which comes to power wants to adjust their people in these unions and in many cases the people who are elected presidents of these unions do not even own trucks.
In several places, agreements for transportation of goods are done in the name of the truck union president, who generally takes a huge cut from the official charges. Be it in the procurement season, the government gives the contract for the lifting of wheat and paddy up to seven kilometres directly to private contractors involved in loading and unloading, or factories sign contracts for carriage of their products with the unions.
During the assembly elections, Bhagwant Mann and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal had said that only truck operators will be allowed to be president of truck unions.
All Punjab Truck Operator Union President Gurmukh Singh Sandhu alias Happy Sandhu says that the government should hold proper elections of the unions in the presence of the local administration. It is unfortunate to that political interference in these unions continues which should not be there.
"The Congress government led by Capt. Amarinder Singh had abolished the unions, but we brought them back after a long struggle. A few black sheep are earning a bad name for the unions," says Sandhu and added that the government should not allow tractor trolleys to carry out the commercial activity.