The new norms on axle load, expected to be announced by the government soon, will alter the landscape for commercial vehicles (CVs) in the country. The new norms, if implemented, may lead to erosion of competitiveness of small fleet operators, softening of spot freight rates, fall in fleet utilisation levels and a trend of shift to higher tonnage vehicles to subside, said Crisil in a research report. The current laws have been in vogue for a good 35 years. The maximum allowable axle load and gross vehicle weight (GVW) of commercial vehicles were notified in 1983, based on the recommendations of a committee set up for the purpose. These were reconfirmed in 1996.
The recent stringency on overloading has led to an increase in the cost per tonne of sand, stones and other construction material, which is hindering implementation of projects the government is keen to fast-track going into the election year. Contractors who had bid for the contracts — especially in affordable housing and road construction — keeping certain rates for these commodities in mind, are finding it difficult to execute the projects.
In view of these concerns, the government is believed to be contemplating new axle norms. As per reports, the maximum axle load could be increased by as much as 20-25%. This would bring India’s permissible truck axle load limits to levels prevalent in developed nations. It is believed there are two ways the change in norms can be implemented: A rise in axle load limits for all trucks, or only on new sales.