Truckers proceeded on a nationwide indefinite strike on Thursday to protest against the present toll system. The strike call was given by All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC).
Transporters took the step after talks between the government and AIMTC delegation failed as the truckers’ body said the offer of electronic-toll system by December was not practical.
However, essential commodities like milk, vegetables and medicine have been kept off the purview of the strike.
Another truckers body AITWA has said that it is not joining the strike.
AIMTC is demanding scrapping of toll system terming it a tool of harassment and one-time payment of taxes besides simplification of TDS.
Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday offered electronic-toll system pan-India by December to address their concerns but made it clear that scrapping of toll system is not possible.
However, AIMTC President Bhim Wadhwa said electronic toll system offered by the Highways Minister is no solution as “E-tolling project of the government is a failed concept... even their pilot project has failed. The partnering banks, ICICI and Axis Bank too, have distanced themselves from the project.”
Wadhwa said one of their demands is TDS provisions on transport trade to Pre-Finance Act 2015 and finance minister Arun Jaitley has assured them to call a meeting with Chairman, CBDT.
“The strike is likely to cause Rs 1,500 crore losses to truckers and over Rs 10,000 crore loss to government on a daily basis,” Wadhwa said.
Asked that another body All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA) has not joined the strike, Wadhwa said AIMTC was the apex body and represented about 87 lakh trucks and 20 lakh buses and tempos.
Gadkari held a detailed meeting with AIMTC delegation on Wednesday and appealed them to call off the strike assuring an electronic toll collection system by December at all 325 toll plazas.
The AIMTC has maintained it is ready to pay a higher toll but that should be collected as indirect tax because of harassment by different agencies.