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All new trucks to have compulsory AC from April 2017

“Living conditions in their families are miserable. Then how can an AC cabin fitting change the driver’s efficiency. The government must fix the basics first."

The drivers of Indian Trucks wouldn’t need to experience an open cabin anymore to deal with extreme cold of Ladakh and sweaty heat of Rajasthan. Bringing an amendment to Motor Vehicle Act, Government has mandated AC cabin for Truck drivers.

Reportedly, from April 2017 it would be mandatory under Motor Vehicle Act,1988  for manufacturers and the so-called truck body-builders to fit air-conditioners in the cabin in all new trucks sold. It is perhaps being considered  first conscious effort made to offer a degree of physical comfort to people engaged in an otherwise punishing profession, carrying cargo year-round in often harsh weather and terrain.

Mint claimed to have a copy of the notification date November 2 by the Ministry of road transport and highways. It is to be noted that the Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961, guarantees them a minimum wage of Rs14,500 per month (in Delhi) along with provident fund, gratuity and medical services, but only a few logistics firms actually adhere to these norms.

The trouble is that India is already facing shortage of truck drivers, which could become a major issue amid expanding interstate highways and the creation of a seamless national market after the proposed introduction next year of the goods and services tax that is expected to make it easier for companies and distributors to ferry industrial inputs and finished goods across states.

In its report Mint quoted S.P. Singh, senior fellow, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT) as saying that truck drivers take up the profession out of a lack of choice—they aren’t able to do anything else.

“Living conditions in their families are miserable. Then how can an AC cabin fitting change the driver’s efficiency. The government must fix the basics first,” he said.

However, this decision has also put truck manufacturers in a fix.

The upgradation to Bharat Stage IV (BS IV) emission norms from April 1 is still due, and most models are in the process of homologation— ensuring the vehicles meet regulatory standards. It is to be noted that the government notification on air-conditioning of cabins means an overhaul of the engine systems of these vehicles.

 

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