JORABAT, Feb 27: Driving at night on the highway has turned out to be a nightmare for commuters due to over-speeding dumpers that carry sand, earth, rocks and stone chips to the various construction sites of the city from the quarries located on the city outskirts.
The stone quarries and hill cutting sites that are operating on the city outskirts (Kiling Road, Nine Mile, Eight Mile and other areas) in the adjacent Meghalaya State, have engaged around 400 dumper trucks to transport earth, rocks and stone chips to Guwahati and nearby areas.
Moreover, sources informed that several quarries in Narengi, Chandrapur, Moinakhulung (in Lokhra) and other areas located in Assam part have also engaged quite a large number of dumpers adding up to the dumper traffic on the city roads.
But what makes the numbers worrisome, is the reckless nature of its drivers that has instilled fear among the commuters, especially on the National Highway-37 here. Mocking traffic bylaws, these ‘killer dumpers’, have contributed to a large number of accidents and allegedly killed more people than any other vehicle in the last couple of years. However, they are still being given a free hand to continue their monstrous act.
Interestingly, the police and the transport (MVI) departments, that are entitled to keep a check on such activities, have not been able to put a check on them. People of the city have demanded an answer to this problem through letters to the editor columns in various newspapers and other news media.
It may be mentioned that these dumpers carrying forest produce require certain permission like transit-pass or challan from the forest department of the origin state. Often, the trucks carry the produce without proper documents or they are overloaded. However, the forest department in Assam has the authority to check for the requisite documents, the non-production of which may result in a fine amounting to Rs 1 lakh or even more.
An interesting fact that came to light in this regard is that to gain huge profits, the truckers procure a single challan for an unlimited number of trips they make on a single day, whereas a separate challan is required for each trip.
However, locals believe that an honest crackdown by the forest department would generate a huge amount of revenue for the government, which will also put a check on illegal activities and create a safer road for the people to commute. It may be mentioned that the areas mentioned fall under the Divisional Forest Officer of Kamrup East Division and several beat offices under it are authorised to look after the illegalities concerning forest and its produce.
Posing as a fresh trader in the business, this correspondent found shocking details from the existing traders, as to how they are allowed to make multiple number of trips with a single challan. The traders informed that they allegedly pay Rs 1500 per month as protection money for a single truck to the forest beat offices under their operating areas. If calculated, the collection of protection money of one forest beat office, for say 400 dumpers, amounts to Rs 6,00,000 a month. However, the dealings are said to be done in a very secret manner and probing it would be a very tough task.
Another interesting fact that came to light is that two unregistered dumpers’ association that are chaired by some high profile mafia men, have allegedly been paving the way for all this to happen by managing the concerned officials.
However, the conscious section of people have appealed to the state government that usually speaks about eradicating corruption, to take immediate action on such illegal practices taking place and building safer roads for the public.