Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today asked the Congress government not to destroy the trucking industry in Punjab by using heavy handed means to force truck unions to make draconian reductions in tender rates in rate contracts for wheat transportation, even as he said Congress leaders were making merry by fleecing ‘palledar’ unions by making them pay steep concessions for award of labour contracts.In a statement here, the SAD president said it was shocking that despite start of wheat purchase on April 1, the government had still not completed the process of awarding tenders for transportation of procured wheat to appropriate godowns. He said while this was affecting the livelihood of thousands of truckers with more than 70,000 trucks being used for this purpose, it would also effect farmers as failure to lift wheat from mandis would clog them and delay the procurement process.
Asking the government to talk to the truck unions and settle the imbroglio quickly, Mr Badal said it was unfortunate that the government was using coercive methods to force the truckers to toe its dictatorial line. “At least 80 per cent of the 70,000 odd trucks used to transport wheat and paddy during the biannual procurement season are self owned. Moreover the owners don’t ply them otherwise because they are old and cannot be used to long haul carriage”.Stating that the government had done nothing for farmers and dalits and not created any new jobs for youth, he said it was now bent on snatching the livelihoods of those who were gainfully employed in the trucking business. “Simultaneously the government is looking the other way while its leaders manipulate labour contracts and get them awarded to their favourites at steep rates due to extraneous reasons. This is not how welfare governments work. We condemn this and extend our whole hearted support to truckers as well as labourers who have been affected by the Congress high-handedness”, he added.