1 April 2023 5:30 AM GMT
The Meghalaya High Court on Friday directed the State government to take immediate action against the overloading of vehicles along the principal arterial routes in the State.The directions came to be passed by a bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh, while hearing a PIL pertaining to the movement of illegally mined coal in heavy vehicles without following...
The Meghalaya High Court on Friday directed the State government to take immediate action against the overloading of vehicles along the principal arterial routes in the State.
The directions came to be passed by a bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh, while hearing a PIL pertaining to the movement of illegally mined coal in heavy vehicles without following the procedure prescribed under the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 or the rules thereunder.
At the outset the bench noted that despite several reports filed by the State, the petitioner is insisting that little has been done to check the overloading of vehicles and there has been no apparent improvement in the situation.
The State government in its report before the bench had earlier submitted that there were some 16 weighbridges functional in the entirety of the State and that the number of functional weighbridges would be increased to 23 by the end of this month. However, the bench pointed out that the State government has now submitted that only 19 weighbridges are functional, and another four are about to be made workable within the next fortnight or so.
The court also took note of the fact that in several parts of the State, vehicles carrying boulders and even sand filled to the brim and more of heavy metal-bodied trucks were operating brazenly with no checks in place. Even without weighbridges, it is obvious that such vehicles, sometimes bearing no registration plates, do not conform to the weight limits and the local administration turns a blind eye to these violations, the bench underscored.
Highlighting the fact that certain pockets around Pynursla have become hubs for illegal transportation of boulders, sand and timber to Bangladesh, the bench pointed that despite weight norms being in place, not a single one of the thousand trucks parked in these areas adheres to them, raising serious concerns about public safety.
The bench observed that the situation is further exacerbated by the fact that these overloaded vehicles, carrying massive boulders and timber, pose a significant threat to other road users. If they were to suddenly brake, the boulders on top would invariably shower behind and smash any lesser vehicle or even kill pedestrians, the bench remarked.
"While there may have been some improvement in some of the goods vehicles being covered, one suspects that the cover may more often be to hide the transportation of coal than to ensure safety", the bench said.
The State government informed the court that a blueprint has been prepared and that acquiring a set of electronic weigh-pads would set the State back by Rs.27 lakh. However, the court observed that considering the cost per kilometre of construction of road, the hilly terrain in the State, and the almost incessant rain that the State receives for nearly six months, there can be no excuse for not making appropriate investment to check the menace.
Further the court has directed the Superintendents of Police in all districts to be made aware and appropriately instructed to check, even on physical appearance, the overladen trucks. Once such a drive is undertaken and some trucks are stopped and not permitted to carry on without relieving the additional load, others may fall in line, the bench reasoned.
Hoping that some actual steps would be taken on the ground in such regard the court directed the State government to file a report when the matter appears next, four weeks hence on May 3, 2023.
Case Title: Tennydard M. Marak Vs. State of Meghalaya & ors Coram
Click Here To Read/Download Order