Extortion of truckers, already hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, is at its peak in states like Madhya Pradesh, transporters' body AIMTC said, as it sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention to bring an end to their plight.
In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, AIMTC alleged that sums ranging from Rs 1,200 to Rs 3,000 per vehicle per entry are being charged by those deployed at the state borders, specially in Madhya Pradesh. If the payment is refused, the vehicle is detained and fined on one pretext or the other, it added.
All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) is the apex umbrella body of transporters, representing about 95 lakh truckers.
"Post GST there should not have been any RTO (Regional Transport Office) checkposts at the borders or elsewhere so as to ensure corruption free seamless movement of transport vehicles across one nation....
"As an antithesis to your professed objective of zero corruption & the basic premise of GST law, the RTO checkposts have been working brazenly and with impunity at the state borders. There is all out corruption, extortion and exploitation of the vulnerable and poor truckers," it said in the letter.
It said some of the most notorious border posts include Sendhwa (Bal Samud), Burhanpur, Multai, Pithol, Nayagaon, Dogargaon Soyat, Hanumana, Chakghat, Morena, Nowgaon, Jalgaon, Behrampur, Machalpur, Jirapur, Dholpur and Chindwara in Madhya Pradesh.
Sums ranging from Rs 1,200 and Rs 3,000 per vehicle per entry are being rampantly charged there, it added.
"Almost daily crores of rupees are fleeced from the vulnerable truckers that go into pockets of the people in this syndicate. It also results in acute loss of revenue to the central and state governments, and compromise road safety," said Kultaran Singh Atwal, president, AIMTC.
Mentioning that corruption and extortion is prevalent in several states including Rajasthan, the body said Madhya Pradesh in particular has become one of the most inhospitable states for the road transport sector.
"The RTOs, District Transport Offices (DTOs) and motor vehicle inspector (MVIs) in the state "have unleashed a tyranny of harassment, corruption and extortion on vague provisions of law", Atwal said.
Around 85 per cent of the truckers have just one to five trucks, and 65 per cent belong to rural areas, it said, adding they are facing severe financial stress due to the coronavirus crisis.
"The ongoing extortion and harassment is fomenting acute resentment among the transport fraternity from across the," it added.
"...we suggest and request your immediate intervention in the matter to resolve the issue in time by directing to abolish all the RTO checkposts in the states," the letter to the Prime Minister said.