Striking truckers to meet transport minister

January 12th, 2009 - 2:20 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 12 (IANS) Representatives of truckers associations are expected to meet the government here later Monday, the eighth day of their nationwide strike, after several states invoked the law against them and arrested some of their members.A senior government official confirmed that a group of leaders representing truckers are expected to meet either Surface Transport Minister T.R. Baalu or the ministry’s secretary Brahm Dutt in the afternoon.

The minister will also meet his state-level counterparts in the afternoon.

At least five of the leaders of the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) were arrested under the provisions of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), invoked by several states including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh. Some have also been booked under the National Security Act.

The arrested strike leaders were sent to judicial custody Saturday. “They are being produced before the court today (Monday),” said an office-bearer of the AIMTC.

The truck operators have been on a nationwide strike since Jan 5, demanding a reduction of at least Rs.10 a litre in prices of diesel, 35 percent in prices of tyres and uniform value-added tax across the states.

The agitation has not only disrupted interstate movement of goods, including those meant for exports, but also sent prices of fruits and vegetables soaring.

AIMTC general secretary S. Venugopal claimed the strike has affected the movement of at least six million trucks across the country.

The truckers are unimpressed by Petroleum Minister Murli Deora’s statement Saturday that the government was looking at a Rs.3 per litre cut in diesel prices.

The government however claims that it has the support of the All India Confederation of Goods Vehicle Owners’ Associations in ensuring that movement of trucks starts in some states and to facilitate supplies of essential commodities.

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