Mining woes prompt tipper union members to block NH-1 for 4 hrs : The Tribune India

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Mining woes prompt tipper union members to block NH-1 for 4 hrs

Protesters shift dharna to alternative site after MLAs’ intervention

Mining woes prompt tipper union members to block NH-1 for 4 hrs

MLA Hardeep Singh Mundian interacts with the protesters at Sahnewal. TRIBUNE PHOTO

Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, May 29

Members of the Somasar Tipper Union today blocked National Highway-1 by parking their vehicles on the road near Gurudwara Attarsar Sahib at Sahnewal. Later, after the intervention of Sahnewal MLA Hardeep Singh Mundian and Payal MLA Manwinder Singh Giaspura, the protesters lifted their dharna from the road and shifted it in front of the gurdwara.

The dharna began at 5.30 am in the morning and was shifted in front of the gurdwara about four hours later at 10 am.

For hour-and-a-half hours, hapless commuters at NH-1 had to pay through the nose. Travellers coming from Delhi side were the worst sufferers. Even as they were diverted from Doraha through the service lane, the traffic mess continued for hours.

Serpentine queues of vehicles near the protest site on Monday. TRIBUNE PHOTO

Amrik Singh, the president of union, said truckers had many expectations from the AAP-led government but now their hopes had been dashed to the ground.

Amrik said: “Earlier, manual excavation up to 2 acres and 3 feet of land was considered to be a non-mining activity. Both manual as well as mechanical free for agricultural and residential purposes and an amount of Rs 2.93 per cubic feet was charged for commercial mining.”

“However, on March 13, the government issued a notification which said that that henceforth, only manual excavation shall be permitted. This means that we shall now be charged for what we used to do free of cost,” Amrik added.

Another protester said: “Mechanical excavation costs us labour and other additional charges. We now have to spend around Rs 2,000 per tipper. AAP had made tall promises of bringing a transporter-friendly policy, but now, months later, we have been forced to come on the roads and raise our voice against the government’s faulty policies.”

“The arbitrariness of the government,” another protester said, “has cost us dear. We are completely out of work these days. Despite meeting the higher authorities several times, nothing substantial has come out. Instead, cases are being registered against us.”

An office-bearer of the union said: “We have been rendered jobless by the government and drivers, labourers and zamindars have had to come on the roads. We abide by all the rules and regulations and pay all taxes regularly. Why are we being harassed in this manner?”

Later, MLAs Hardeep Mundian and Manwinder Giaspura reached the spot and listened to the problems of the truckers. They assured the protesters that they shall fix a meeting with Cabinet Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer and come back with a positive response in the next four days.

On the assurance of the legislators, the protesters shifted the dharna site from NH-1 to a spot in front of the gurdwara and said the protest shall continue until the time their demands are met.

Sahnewal SHO Inderjit Boparai said the blocking of the national highway became a cause of inconvenience for commuters. “But we were able to handle the situation with the coordination of Doraha police. We immediately diverted the traffic through alternative routes to minimise the impact,” he added.

Manual excavation unaffordable for truckers

A protesting trucker said: “In its notification of March 13, the government has mandated that now onwards, only manual excavation of sand will be allowed. It means that now we have to spend additional money on labour and other charges, leading to an expense of about Rs 2,000 per tipper. We simply cannot afford this.”

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