Tipper operators protest govt ban on crushers

- SAMIK KHAREL, Kathmandu
Tipper operators protest govt ban on crushers

Aug 24, 2014-

Tipper operators have launched a protest against the government’s ban on the operation of crusher industries failing to meet the standards, which the transporters say left them unemployed. The government has banned crusher industries from extracting stones, pebbles and sand since mid-July.

Although the government last week directed the industries to at least supply their existing stocks, the latter have refused to comply with the directive. Government sources say the industries have stocked an estimated 4 million cubic feet of the construction materials. But their refusal to supply their stocks to the market has created a shortage, sending the prices soaring.

On Sunday, tipper operators parked around 700 vehicles at Tinkune ground as part of the first phase of their protests. “We are around 1,000 people here to oppose the government’s decision to halt the crusher industry,” said Yadav Lal Shrestha, who heads the Tipper Entrepreneurs Association under the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNNTE). “We have our tents fixed here and we will not move until the government allows the crusher industries to operate.”

Currently there are around 4,000 tippers operating in the Central region alone. The entrepreneurs estimate a daily loss of Rs 28 million as they have not been allowed to ferry the construction materials.    “We have done everything to buzz the government, including meetings, statements and memorandum. However, the government’s unwillingness is fishy,” said Shrestha.

The entrepreneurs say even trucks and tractors will halt their services in the coming days as other materials like cement and steel will be useless without crushers. “If all of these vehicles are out of work, a total of 50,000 drivers will be jobless” said Dharma Raj Rimal, FNNTE’s Bagmati Zonal Chief.

Consumer rights activists doubt whether the government’s intention was right while setting the standards. Jyoti Baniya, general secretary of the Forum for Protection of Consumers’ Rights, said the government has, in the past, set different standards for crusher industries just to collect money and later relaxed the same provision. He, however, crusher industries involved in black marketing should be punished.

These tippers not only ferry crushers, but also transport raw materials to the crusher industries. And, as per the Environment Act, they are not allowed to excavate the river during the three months of peak monsoon.

“Even the tipper operators have to find an alternative income source during these three months. We also have to worry about the state’s natural resources and its safety,” said Tulasi Prasad Sitaula, Secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructures and Transport (MoPIT). “The government also has to be flexible in the standards set for them.”

Even the 18 crusher industries in the central region that meet the government-set criteria have announced closure to oppose the government decision.

Before the strike, as many as 100 trucks carrying the construction materials came to Kathmandu from highway entry points such as Tikabhairav, Panauti and Dhading.

To address the problem and dig out the existing stock with the crusher industries, the government had also formed Central Monitoring Committee and District Monitoring Committee, but to no avail. “The local administration and the committees failed to identify and monitor the crusher industries to ascertain the exact stock. Hence, the problem has seen no solution yet,” said Sitaula.

In April, Forest Minister Mahesh Acharya had announced that no new crusher plants would be registered until mid-June, an initial move to implement the new criteria.

The government’s direction to crusher industries to relocate to isolated areas further angered the operators. In response, the Crusher Industry Entrepreneurs’ Association has time and again stopped the supply of construction materials such as sand, stone and gravel.

Published: 25-08-2014 09:51

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