Reduction of toll fee, modification of toll rules demanded
Over 20 lakh trucks in southern States and Union Territory of Puducherry will go off the roads from August 2 if the Centre fails to meet the truck owners' demand of reducing toll fee and modifying the toll rules.
A resolution to this effect was passed at a meeting of Federation of South Zone Lorry Owners' Associations held here on Wednesday.
After the meeting, All India Motor Transport Congress president G.R. Shanmugappa, told The Hindu that bus and maxi-cab operators would also participate in the indefinite strike in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and Union Territory of Puducherry.
He said that the Centre had entered into an agreement with the Transport Congress in 1998 on levying toll at the rate of Rs. 1.30 a km. Besides, it said that toll would be collected only on roads that were laid at a cost of Rs. 1 crore and above for a km. The accord also stipulated that single toll would be collected for multiple journeys made within 24 hours.
Similarly, it was agreed that only 50 per cent of the toll would be collected on roads within the district immaterial of the distance.
However, the Centre had scrapped the agreement in 2008 and stipulated new norms.
The then Union Minister for Surface Transport, T.R. Baalu, revised the norms stipulating that toll would be collected on all roads where the cost was Rs. 3 crore for a km.
“Truckers operating in Tamil Nadu are the worst affected as almost all (important national highways) roads have become toll roads,” said Mr. Shanmugappa. On an average, a truck had to pay Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,200 a day on toll alone. The toll for a return trip between Tuticorin and Bangalore was around Rs. 3,500, he added.
The meeting also resolved that the toll should be revised only once in five years; the number of categories of vehicles should be reverted to three from the existing six; empty cargo vehicles should be exempted from toll and fee should be collected only for the extent of roads used by the vehicles.
National bus permit
Another resolution demanded provision of national permit to buses for Rs. 15,000 as in the case of trucks.
No toll should be collected till all the basic amenities for the road users were provided on the road. Among those present at the meeting were Gopal Naidu, president of South India Motor Transport Association, K. Nallathambi, president of Tamil Nadu unit of Lorry Owners' Association, and K. Thangaraj, Tamil Nadu Bus Operators' Association.