Government, striking transporters hold talk again (Roundup)July 3rd, 2008 - 11:25 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) Transport of goods across the country remained affected for the second day Thursday even as the striking truck owners protesting rising taxes and the fuel price hike met again to end the logjam. A marathon meeting between the transporters’ association and surface transport ministry officials continued till late Thursday evening.
The transporters’ association was hopeful its demands would be met.
“Our representatives have gone to meet senior officials in the surface transport ministry. We are very hopeful of a positive outcome. We expect some decision soon,” said Charan Singh Lohara, president of the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), an apex body of truck owners.
The AIMTC claims to represent nearly 4.8 million truck and two million mini truck operators.
“We are continuing the strike and we will continue till there is a favourable response from the government,” Lohara said Thursday afternoon.
A transport monitoring agency, however, Thursday said the protest was unwarranted and it was only a pressure tactic of many truck owners to wriggle out of tax evasion cases.
“Many truck owners have evaded tax duties and notices were served to them. They have come up with frivolous demands to pressurise the government so that they can get away with cases against them,” said S.P. Singh, coordinator of the Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRE), the only agency of its kind in the country.
“There are over 10 major state bodies that have categorically announced their dissociation from the transport strike called by the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC),” he claimed.
Singh also accused industry lobbies of portraying an unrealistic picture of the situation in the transportation sector. An industry lobby Wednesday said the industry lost Rs.20 billion owing to the truckers’ strike.
The strike began after talks between AIMTC and the government failed Tuesday night. Several rounds of talks Wednesday remained inconclusive. The government said the impact of the strike on day one was up to 35 percent.
In his meeting with AIMTC Wednesday, Transport Minister T.R. Baalu said rolling back the hike in toll tax would not be possible as the increase was effected through an act of parliament.
The government Wednesday said it was willing to give more concessions and exemptions needed to resolve the crisis in the transport industry and added that the issue of toll and service taxes was a minor point.
The petroleum ministry Wednesday assured truck owners that unbranded diesel would be made available to truckers at normal rates at petrol pumps and retail outlets - as demanded by them. Unbranded diesel is cheaper by Rs.2.20 a litre than the branded varieties.
Tags: apex body, charan singh, dissociation, favourable response, fuel price hike, india motor transport, industry lobbies, logjam, mini truck, ministry officials, pressure tactic, rou, senior officials, state bodies, surface transport ministry, tax evasion cases, transport research, transport strike, transportation sector, truck operators