Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

Truckers begin nation-wide strike, govt refuses to budge

AIMTC demanding scrapping of the existing toll system, one-time payment of taxes and simplification of TDS procedure

New Delhi: Transporters across the country on Thursday began a strike demanding scrapping of the toll system, disrupting movement of goods, and threatened to intensify it.

While supply of essential commodities like milk, vegetables and medicines have been kept out of the purview of the strike, its impact was seen in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, among other places.

“We will continue our strike tomorrow as the government has failed to pay any heed to our demand. The electronic-toll collection system as promised by the government is not practical," All India Motor Transport Congress president Bhim Wadhwa told PTI.

Demanding scrapping of the existing toll system and one-time payment of taxes and simplification of TDS procedure, truckers proceeded on an indefinite strike this morning.

Wadhwa said AIMTC has 87 lakh trucks and 20 lakh buses and tempos across the country under its fold and is not ready to withdraw the strike unless some practical solution is made.

While appealing to the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) to call off the strike earlier in the day, road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said the toll system can’t be scrapped. “It is up to them to continue their strike. The government cannot scrap toll. We have already assured to implement electronic tolling system pan-India by December. I appeal to them to call off the strike," Gadkari told PTI.

Another truckers body, All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA) has decided to keep away from the strike. Gadkari said the government is committed to delivering good highways to transporters and is serious that they do not have to wait at toll plazas.

“E-tolling project of the government is a failed concept... Even their pilot project has failed. The partnering banks like ICICI and Axis Bank too have distanced themselves from the project," Wadhwa said. “Our indefinite strike is successful as per reports coming from all parts of the country," he said, adding that “the strike has caused about Rs1,500 crore losses to truckers and over Rs10,000 crore loss to the government on the first day".