Madhya Pradesh truckers to continue agitation on day 7

January 11th, 2009 - 3:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhopal, Jan 11 (IANS) With the truckers strike entering the seventh day Sunday, Madhya Pradesh transporters said they will continue with their agitation until their demands are fulfilled by the government.The state government had Saturday threatened over 32,000 truckers of Madhya Pradesh to return to work immediately else the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) will be invoked.

However, unfazed by the threat, the striking truckers decided not to budge under government’s pressure even as prices of essential commodities rose in the local market.

“We Saturday received notifications regarding enforcement of ESMA on the striking transporters. Stern action, if necessary, would be initiated,” said Additional District Magistrate of Bihar Rajnish Srivastava.

He said the violators of the act invite an imprisonment of three years or penalty of Rs.5,000 or both.

However, Madhya Pradesh State Truckers Association (MPSTA) President Ajay Sharma said they would continue the strike till their eight point demands are accepted by the central government.

The striking transporters are demanding reduction in diesel price by at least Rs.10 per litre and that of tyres by 35 percent. They want withdrawal of service tax on truckers and uniform rate of value added tax (VAT) across states.

More than 20,000 trucks in Madhya Pradesh had gone off the roads after the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) called for an indefinite strike Monday.

Various transport associations of the state claim that goods worth more than Rs.500 million are piled up in the warehouses of Mandideep, Pithampur, Dewas and other major industrial areas.

The wholesalers have started running out of stock resulting in a rise in prices of essential commodities in the local market.

“We are facing short supply of goods from wholesalers for the past two days,” say retailers.

They said the price of Tuar dal has shot up from Rs.4,350 to Rs.4,600 per quintal, sugar prices have increased from Rs.2,040 to Rs.2,080 per quintal while loose edible oil prices rose from Rs.4,980 to Rs.5,100 per quintal during the last two days.

The vegetable prices too registered a hike of Rs.5 per kg. Prices of green peas and carrots Jan 8 was Rs.15 and Rs.10 per kg respectively, which rose to Rs.20 and Rs.15 Saturday.

However, Madhya Pradesh Dal Chawal Vyapari Mahasangh president Motiram Vadhwani denied any such price rise.

He said: “They (retailers) were taking advantage of the situation and fleecing people. We won’t let the prices go up during the strike.”

Akhil Bharatiya Udyog Vyapar Mandal spokesperson Anupam Agarwal said: “The hike in sugar and dal prices is due to opening of the tender at a higher rate.”

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