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AC becomes mandatory for trucks as the Indian government amends Motor Vehicle Act to make the system compulsory from April 2017

The Indian government has made an amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act 1988. According to the amendment, air-conditioners have become mandatory in the cabin of all the new trucks from 1st April, 2017 onwards. This is probably the first effort to make the truck cabins a bit comfortable for the drivers. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has announced this new provision in a notification.

With the AC installed in the cabin of trucks, drivers will get some physical relief in the harsh weather conditions like extreme cold or extreme heat. While the government has taken such a positive move to ensure physical comfort for the truck drivers, some experts say; the government should fix the basics of truck drivers first rather than making AC mandatory.

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According to the experts, truck drivers choose the profession out of a lack of choice. So, the AC in truck cabin won’t make much difference for them, as the wage is very low. The Motor Transport Workers Act 1961 guarantees the truck drivers a minimum wage of Rs. 14,500 per month along with other benefits like provident fund, gratuity and medical services. But most of the logistics firms don’t follow the rule.

In fact, India is already facing a shortage of truck drivers, which could become a serious issue in near future. Beside railways, trucks carry the largest volume of cargo and goods across the nation. Therefore the shortage of truck drivers could make an impact on the economy as well.

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The experts also raise question, what if the fleet owner doesn’t let the driver switch on the AC, as it will affect the mileage. Apart from that, the cabins of around 95% HCVs in India are built outside the truck manufacturer’s factories. Therefore retro-fitment of AC in the cabins could lead to serious safety hazards. Government has probably overlooked this point as well.