Minister Baalu ready to invoke ESMA to end transporters strike

January 10th, 2009 - 9:17 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, Jan.10 (ANI): Union Surface Transport and Shipping Mminister T R Baalu on Saturday said that he was ready to invoke the Essential Service Maintenance Act (ESMA) to force striking transporters to get back on the road.
Suggesting an advisory action plan to state governments to deal with the strikers, Baalu said it would include declaring transport services as essential services and to use transport vehicles within the state for carrying the essential commodities without permit.
He also said that while he did want to act tough, he would not hesitate to suspend or cancel the permits of strikers if they did not back down.
“We don”t want to act tough, we don”t want to precipitate the issue further. Transporters are the stakeholders of the ministry. I ”m only requesting to come forward (for talks),” Baalu told reporters.
His statement came a day after the Centre had asked states to act firm against the transporters
Baalu’’s warning came as the Central Government said that it would hold a meeting of state transport ministers on Monday to find a solution to the issue.
The All India Motors Transport Congress (AIMTC), which is spearheading the strike of about six million truckers, has refused to come forward for talks asking for the release of their arrested members, including president Charan Singh Lohara and Secretary S Venugopal, besides pressing for their demands.
The strike entered its sixth day on Saturday, with the strikers demanding a reduction of diesel prices and certain tax concessions.
AIMTC and federal government officials broke down last weekend, threatening to push up prices of food and other essential commodities across the country.
“We are facing lot of problems because of this strike. We have incurred huge losses during this period. We can”t export anything outside, thus our whole business has gone down.” said Pritam Das, a vegetable seller.
The pinch of the strike is being felt by the customers in the Indian capital New Delhi where they say that the supply of the vegetables has come down drastically and the prices have shot up.
“As such I can”t really feel any major difference, but still definitely there has been hike in vegetable prices,” said Shambhunath Jha, a vegetable seller.
“We always maintained this stand from the beginning itself that we won”t be guiding on this strike nor we will be supporting this strike. Around about 70% of truck owners come under our association, that is around about of 40 lakhs of trucks comes under our association. We always ask the government to rectify any problem so that everything functions smoothly,” said Channa Reddy, president of All-India Confederation of Good Vehicles Owners Association.
All-India Confederation of Goods Vehicle Owners Association Vice-president Chitranjan Das and President Channa Reddy came to New Delhi to meet and lend their support to Baalu. (ANI)

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