The government is trying to persuade truckers not to go on strike from August 6 to press their demand for lower toll tax, Minister of Road Transport and Highways Kamal Nath said on Thursday.
Truckers lobby group, All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), has called for lower toll tax failing which it plans to take nearly 62 lakh trucks off roads from August 6, and halt movement of goods across the country.
“We are discussing (the issue) with truckers, we had a meeting today also. We hope that they do not take such a step as many people would be affected by their move,” Mr. Nath said on the meeting between the Road Ministry and AIMTC.
AIMTC, which is seeking rationalisation of toll charges, has sought a high-level probe either by the CBI or a parliamentary panel into the toll collection policy.
It has alleged that “arbitrary” revision in toll rates in 2008 has resulted in truckers paying a hefty Rs 5,000 crore a day as toll tax. The toll rates were increased to up to Rs 5 a km from Rs 1.40 in 1997.
Truckers have gone on strikes in July 2008, January 2009 and July 2009 against their grievances, including “irrational” toll charges.
Earlier this week, AIMTC president G.R. Shanmugappa threatened an indefinite strike saying that the hike in toll charges resulted in huge hardships to truckers.
“We demand a high level probe either by CBI or a parliamentary panel as there is no transparency and the government has no records of toll collection from contractors,” Mr. Shanmugappa said.
He added that he would raise the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairman Sonia Gandhi.
Besides toll tax, AIMTC has also called for revision in diesel prices and removal of anti-dumping duty on tyres.