CHENNAI: The ruling DMK government’s decision to follow the policy of the previous AIADMK regime on retro-reflective stickers for commercial vehicles has drawn flak from the lorry-owner association. It was only in January that the DMK, then the Opposition, levelled corruption charges against the practice and threatened legal action against the then transport minister.
The AIADMK government had ordered that the mandatory reflective stickers should be purchased only from the two empanelled companies of the State government. While the State has eight companies producing reflective stickers and authorised by the Union government, the transport department was forcing vehicle owners to purchase stickers only from the two firms, which sold the stickers at a price Rs 2,500 higher than the market price, according to the lorry association. There are 4.5 lakhs lorries in the State.
The corruption charges
At a public meeting in Karur in January, M K Stalin, the then Leader of Opposition, levelled corruption charges against AIADMK government’s transport minister MR Vijayabhaskar for not allowing the lorry owners to buy the reflective stickers from all the eight companies. Stalin had said the allegations against Vijayabhaskar would be investigated if the DMK was voted to power. In a 97-page corruption complaint given to the then Governor Banwarilal Purohit, the DMK accused the then transport minister and a few other individuals of allegedly favouring two companies.
After assuming power, however, the DMK government decided to continue with the same policy for the past four months. Murugan Venkatachalam, president, All India Motor Transport Congress( Tamil Nadu) said the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, responding to their representations, had clarified that the safety stickers purchased from any of the authorised companies are valid and enough to obtain the FC. “We wonder what stops the State government from enforcing the Centre’s order,” he said.
According to a lorry owner, 25-30 metres of reflective tape are required for a 16-tyre lorry. About 17.4 metres of this are yellow tape to be affixed on both the sides, 2.2 metres are white tape for the front, and 1.8 metres are red tape for the rear. “The two companies charge customers an extra `40-80 a metre of the sticker. After affixing them, the picture of the vehicle should be uploaded as part of the paperwork for FC. But, save for the two companies, others’ names don’t appear for selection on the website,” said one of the office-bearers of the lorry association.
Transport Commissioner Santosh K Misra was unavailable for comments. M Manakumar, Additional Transport Commissioner said, “The representation from lorry owners regarding this issue was received and forwarded to the competent authorities for further action."