Operators of lorries, trucks and other long-distance cargo vehicles protested here on Tuesday against the hike in excise duty on the petroleum products and tyres announced by the Central government in the Union budget. The protesting leaders wanted the Centre to immediately reduce the excise duty on diesel and tyres.

The protest was organised under the banner of the Andhra Pradesh Lorry Owners Association and the Krishna District Lorry Owners Association in front of sub-collector’s office. They raised slogans against the provisions in the budget. They later submitted a memorandum containing their demands to the district officials.

Addressing the protesters, APLOA general secretary Y.V. Eeswara Rao said that the recent hike on petroleum products would have a very debilitating impact on the transport sector as it was already in a crisis due to lack of sufficient returns. Lakhs of people dependent on the transport sector would lose their jobs if the owners find it difficult to operate their vehicles.

Mr. Eeswara Rao said that on an average there would be an additional burden of nearly Rs. 1 crore every day on lorry owners following the increase in diesel price from Rs. 35.74 a litre to Rs. 38.51 a litre.

He pointed out that there were 40,000 lorries in the district.

As there were four lakh lorries in the State, the overall burden on lorry owners would come to Rs. 10 crore a day.

Stating that the cess on tyres was increased abnormally, Mr. Eeswara Rao said that the increase in rate per two tyres was nearly Rs. 500 following the Centre’s decision while the recent hike in VAT by the State government added to the problem. Now in the last two months, lorry owners had to pay Rs. 3,000 per a pair of tyres because of these decisions.

Krishna District Lorry Owners Association general secretary Nagumothu Raja said that the lorry owners were already incurring losses due to lack of good hires. Moreover, the collection by the Centre of Rs. 2 a litre towards cess on diesel in the name of road development became an additional burden even as toll fee was also being collected from the vehicle owners simultaneously.

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