Nationwide transport strike to start today
New Delhi: Apex transporters body All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) will go ahead with a nationwide strike starting today over their demand of scrapping the present toll system and 'one-time' payment of taxes.
While talks with the government failed to stop the 'Chakka-Jam', the AIMTC said essential services would be excluded from the strike, although another transporters' body AITWA decided to keep away completely from the action.
In a meeting with the AIMTC delegation, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari promised pan-India electronic toll system by December to address their concerns but ruled out complete scrapping of the toll system.
"We are proceeding on strike. 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," AIMTC president Bhim Wadhwa told media after meeting Finance Minister Arun Jaitely on Wednesday.
"The partnering banks such as ICICI Bank and Axis Bank too have distanced itself from the project," he said.
Wadhwa said one of their demands included TDS provisions on transport trade to Pre-Finance Act 2015 and the Finance Minister assured them to call a meeting with CBDT Chairman in this regard.
"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 claimed.
On All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA) keeping away from the strike, Wadhwa said AIMTC was the apex body and represented about 87 lakh trucks and 20 lakh buses and tempos.
AITWA President Pradeep Singhal said they will refrain from any strike.
AIMTC has announced an indefinite nation-wide strike from October 1 against the toll collection system, saying it has become a tool for corruption and harassment.
It has said that it is not against toll, but the collection system, and has demanded barrier-free movement of vehicles as well as one-time collection of taxes.
Earlier in the day, Gadkari appealed the AIMTC to call off the strike assuring an electronic toll collection system by December at all 325 toll plazas.