The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has increased official maximum load carrying capacity for trucks and heavy commercial vehicles. The relaxed norms apply to new vehicles and not to the existing fleet. The ministry also scrapped the mandatory annual renewal of fitness certificates for freight carriers and changed it to bi-annual renewals. “Now, we’re on a par with the international freight carrying norms for transport vehicles. It will also bring down overloading, The new norms will be applicable to the vehicles that would be manufactured after the statutory order comes into effect. Heavy vehicle manufacturers will be given time to meet the standards of the new norms”, said a government official.
The loading norms were last updated in 1983 when the road infrastructure was extremely poor and the efficiency and capacity of vehicles were far less than today. But, the subsequent governments did not relax the norms due to heavy lobbying from truck making companies. The decision to increase capacity was taken following a survey on whether the roads are good enough to carry the additional load. According to the survey, there’s overloading of at least 50% by the trucks currently plying on highways. The trucks that will have more load carrying capacity will bring down overloading. It will also be beneficial for the logistics industry and the transport industry as they’ll be able to carry more freight legally. And the condition of the road is good enough to handle the additional load.
Here is how some heavy commercial vehicles will be impacted by the government’s decision.
- Load carrying capacity of heavy trucks to be increased by 20-25%.
- Gross vehicle weight of a 2 axle truck to be increased from 16.2 to 18.5 tonnes.
- Gross vehicle weight of a 3 axle truck to be increased from 25 tonnes to 28.5 tonnes.
- Gross vehicle weight of a 5 axle truck to be increased from 37 tonnes to 43.5 tonnes.
- Gross vehicle weight of a tractor-trailer with 5 axles and 2 tandem axles to be increased from 44 tonnes to 49 tonnes.
- Gross vehicle weight of 5 axles and single tandem axle trailer to be increased from 49 to 55 tonnes.
The new norms will impact mainly the inter-state transportation because inter-state transporters were already overloading. The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) has cautioned against the practice of overloading. Sugato Sen, Deputy Director General, SIAM said, “SIAM welcomes the government’s move to increase loading capacity of trucks. With the quality of roads improving this is a natural step. However, the illegal practice of overloading should be checked and eliminated completely”.
The share prices of commercial vehicle makers such as Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland dropped by 4-5 percent each after government’s decision. Although Vinod Dasari, managing director and chief executive officer, Ashok Leyland gave a positive response to new norms, he said, “The likely increase in maximum axle load of commercial vehicles by 20-25% by the government would not have an impact on volume for the industry as overloading is happening anyway.”
The newly proposed norms were much required because overloading was happening anyway and transporters were bribing the regulators on toll booths to get away with it. In intra-state transport, the policeman used to extract handsomely from transporters for carrying excess capacity. Now the corruption and bribing will be phased out and transporters will be benefitted from this decision.