Transporters continued with their strike for the fourth consecutive day on Sunday, hitting supply of goods to various parts of the country with the stalemate still on.
The strike has been called by the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) demanding scrapping of the present toll collection system, which it says is a tool of harassment for truckers while it is seeking a one-time payment of taxes and simplification of TDS procedure.
“We will continue our strike for a toll barrier-free India till the government comes out with some practical solution. We are not against paying toll but are demanding that it be levied annually,” AIMTC President Bhim Wadhwa told PTI.
Wadhwa said the body has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to the issue and would meet road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday for some practical solution as electronic-toll system suggested by him was not a practical solution.
Gadkari, however, said, “Government cannot scrap toll as half of about 325 toll booths pertain to private parties which may seek huge claims from the government which can run to Rs 2-3 lakh crore.”
Earlier, he appealed transporters to call off the strike promising e-tolling system pan-India by December for seamless flow of traffic.
However, the truckers refused to call off the strike terming it as an impractical solution.
Talks between a delegation from AIMTC and secretary, Road Transport and Highways Vijay Chhibber, yesterday, failed to arrive at any conclusion.
Meanwhile, supply of goods to various parts of the country continued to be affected. Supply of essential goods such as milk, vegetables and medicines has been kept out of the purview of the indefinite strike, called by AIMTC.
AIMTC said the cumulative loss to the truckers in four days was estimated at about Rs 6,000 crore while the loss to the government could be more than Rs 40,000 crore.
AIMTC claims to have 87 lakh trucks and 20 lakh buses and tempos across the country under its fold.
According to reports from states including Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, goods supply was impacted.
Another truckers body, All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA) has decided to keep away from the strike.
On the other hand, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT) said AIMTC’s suggestion to fix annual toll is not rational.