Talks fail, truckers’ strike from today

deepak pace

Jalandhar, January 3
As talks among representatives of the Union Surface Transport Ministry and the All-India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) failed this evening, 70 lakh trucks will go off roads from tomorrow midnight. At the meeting, Transport Ministry officers were led by its Joint Secretary SK Dash.
President of the AIMTC Charan Singh Lohara said all trucks in the country would be off the roads from tomorrow midnight till its demands were conceded. He said the ultimatum for the strike was served on the union government on December 17 following a meeting of the AIMTC at Indore in Madhya Pradesh.
Lohara said the AIMTC wanted at least Rs 10 per litre cut in diesel price and economic package for all truckers of the country. Whereas the union government had slashed the price of air traffic fuel (ATF) eighth time in the past two months, bringing it down to Rs 29 per litre from Rs 74 per litre, the price of diesel, which was used by truckers, farmers, industry and other small transporters, had been reduced by Rs 2 per litre only. He said the UPA government was more concerned about airlines than truckers operated by “aam aadmi”. He said the Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal) and BKU (Rajewal) had extended support to the agitation.
Soon the union government would issue a notification categorising ATF as declared goods to cover it in the 4 per cent VAT slab. He said the union government had claimed that it was not lowering diesel price because it was making up for the losses suffered by government oil companies when oil prices were above $ 70 per barrel.
Anther major demand of the truckers is to break the alleged cartel of tyre companies, which have raised tyre prices from Rs 17,000 to Rs 27,000 per pair. Despite 40 per cent to 70 per cent fall in the prices of rubber in international market, price of tyres had not been lowered by the companies. He said the Union Commerce Ministry was helping tyre companies to “loot” truckers by imposing anti-dumping duty on quality radials, which were imported from China. The truckers want toll barriers removed or no road tax charged from truckers.