Transporters continued their nation-wide strike for the third consecutive day on Saturday, disrupting supply of goods to various parts of the country.
However, the government refused to budge on their demand for scrapping the present toll system.
Supply of essential goods such as milk, vegetables and medicines has been kept out of the purview of the indefinite strike, called by the apex transporters body, the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC). According to reports from states including Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, goods supply was impacted.
“For toll barrier-free India, our members will stage a peaceful dharna at Jantar Mantar today. We will continue our strike till the government comes out with some practical solution to our problem. We are not against paying toll, but we are demanding it in an annualised form,” AIMTC President Bhim Wadhwa told PTI.
The electronic-toll collection system as promised by the government is “not practical”, he said.
AIMTC claims to have 87 lakh trucks and 20 lakh buses and tempos across the country under its fold.
Another truckers body, All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA) has decided to keep away from the strike.
Wadhwa said the cumulative loss to the truckers in three days was estimated at about Rs 4,500 crore while the loss to the government could be more than Rs 30,000 crore.
However, the government has refused to budge from its stance and said it cannot scrap the toll collection system.
“It is up to them to continue their strike. The government cannot scrap toll. We have already assured to implement electronic tolling system pan-India by December. I appeal to them to call off the strike,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has said.
AIMTC is demanding scrapping of the existing toll system, saying it is a tool of harassment, while it is seeking a one-time payment of taxes and simplification of TDS procedure.
On the other hand, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT) said AIMTC’s suggestion to have fixed annual toll is not rational.