New Delhi: Striking truckers asked the Prime Minister to consider their demands, including lowering diesel prices, but the government was unyielding and turned to the Railways to maintain supplies of essentials to keep the lid on prices.
“We will continue with the strike till our demands are met. We urge Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene to bring an early solution,” All India Motor Transport Congress President Charan Singh Lohara told reporters here on the second day of the agitation.
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Arrival of supplies in major wholesale vegetable markets across the country dropped, while sales were strong.
The truckers went on strike from Sunday midnight demanding a Rs10 per litre cut in diesel prices, one national permit, duty-free import of tyres and exemption from service tax.
The government yesterday exempted sub-contractors from service tax on eight services provided to transporters, but was unwilling to yield to the “blackmail” by truckers today.
“We won’t give up this time. Our contingency plan is already in place. Railways has assured to transport essential commodities on top priority to avoid any inconvenience to the commoners,” Transport Secretary Brahm Dutt told reporters.
He said states were asked to invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act, Essential Commodities Act and NSA, and if needed impound trucks for their use.
“Only 90-95 trucks loaded with potato came in today against the usual 100-120 and the supplies were sold with speed,” Azadpur Onion and Potato Merchants’ Association President Trilokchand Sharma said in Delhi.
Think-tank NCAER’s senior fellow Rajesh Shukla said inflation could shoot up by 50 basis points if the strike continues for three-four days.
Video by Nidhi Bhardwaj