New Delhi: The truckers have deferred their proposed indefinite strike call from August 6 following an assurance from the Transport Ministry to consider their demands, including reduction in toll tax.
"The decision to defer the strike call till further notice was taken following a written assurance by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to consider the issues,
including reducing toll charges, by August 10," All-India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) president GR Shanmugappa said today.
AIMTC, which claims to have a membership of 62 lakh truckers, said its Southern unit, which had called for the strike from August 2, has also deferred their decision
Earlier the truckers body had decided to indefinitely keep over 60 lakh trucks off the roads across the country from August 6,charging the government of failing to take any action on their demands. Their main demands is a lower toll tax besides a relook on the very toll policy.
In a letter addressed to the AIMTC president, Road Transport Joint Secretary SK Dash has sought time till August 10 to consider their demands as the new Transport Secretary RS Gujral has just taken over (July 31).
"The issues relating to toll raised by your organisation are complex in nature and would require in-depth study of the relevant Act/Rules as well as policy of the government.
Therefore, the Ministry would require reasonable time for appropriate consideration…
"It has been decided that the new Secretary will have a meeting with the office bearers of AIMTC on August 10, to consider the demands. In view of the above, you are requested
to defer your proposed strike and wait for the outcome of the meeting with the Secretary to be held on August 10," the letter said.
Last week, Road Minister Kamal Nath had said the government was trying to persuade truckers against going on strike in the larger interests of the public.
AIMTC, which had given the strike call, is seeking rationalisation of toll charges. It has also sought a high-level probe, either by the CBI or a Parliamentary panel,
into the toll collection policy.
The truckers have further alleged that the "arbitrary revision in toll rates in 2008 had resulted in truckers paying up a hefty Rs 5,000 crore as toll tax a day." The toll rates
were increased to up to Rs 5 a km from Rs 1.40 in 1997.
Truckers had earlier gone on strike in July 2008, January 2009 and July 2009 to bring attention to their grievances, including "irrational" toll charges. Besides toll tax, AIMTC
has called for revision of diesel prices and removal of anti-dumping duty on tyres.