Truckers begin 2-day nationwide strike to press for demands, threaten bigger ‘chakka jam’ post Diwali
The supply of goods and commodities may be temporarily impacted as truck operators across the country have gone on a two-day strike from Monday morning to press for various demands, including GST and diesel prices.
The protest, or ‘chakka jam’, started at 8 am today and is expected to continue for the next 36 hours. It was called upon by the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) – the country’s largest transporter association representing over 93 lakh truckers.
According to Bal Malkit Singh, chairman of the core committee of AIMTC, the strike was called to protest against the confusion caused due to GST-related rules, diesel prices, harassment of truck operators and corruption on roads and toll policies.
The transporters have also demanded that diesel prices be brought under the ambit of GST and be revised on a quarterly basis.
The 48-hour strike ahead of Diwali is intended to make the central and state governments agree on bringing diesel under the Good and Services Tax (GST) regime, have an alternative collection of toll on highways and ensure transparency at check-posts.
Millions, including drivers, cleaners, porters and their support staff are participating in the two-day strike across the country.
“This is a token strike to highlight the legitimate concerns and gravity of the present disruptive conditions. More than 80 lakh trucks are expected to be off the road during the strike,” AIMTC Executive President S.K. Mittal told IANS.
Mittal further stated that the implementation of GST had put coercive registration and unnecessary compliances by truckers and transporters, and claimed that the government had put double taxation in the reverse charge mechanism (RCM) and forward charge mechanism (FCM) at five and 12 percent respectively.
Accusing the Centre and state governments of being indifferent to the road transport sector, AIMTC General Secretary Naveen Kumar Gupta said the truckers would go on indefinite strike post Diwali if their main demands were not met.
“As we ferry goods and parcels through intra-state and inter-state routes across the country, a rationalised Value Added Tax (VAT) and uniform excise on diesel in all states would reduce our operational cost and benefit all stakeholders,” asserted Gupta.
Though the Goods and Services Tax has brought relief to truck operators at the inter-state check posts in terms of tax and octroi payments, daily payment at toll gates within and across the states has turned into a nightmare due to long queues, wastage of fuel and traffic pile ups at their entry and exit points.
The association has also lamented over the massive corruption and harassment in the transport sector, especially at RTOs (road transport offices) and check posts.
In Mumbai, several trucks were seen off the roads and parked near highway check posts today morning. Some drivers are also expected to stage a minor protest at the Mankhurd check post.
While the current strike is only expected to put a temporary strain on the supply of goods and commodities, a longer strike may lead to acute shortage and rise in price of essential items.