Government hopeful of resolving issues at today’s meeting

A disruption in transportation of essential commodities, including petroleum products, foodgrains and vegetables, looms large as talks between the sand lorry owners and the government failed here on Friday.

While the sand transporters strike entered the 21st day on Friday, petroleum transporters, goods transporters, tourist taxi operators and those providing cab services to the IT/ITeS sector have threatened to join the strike at midnight on Saturday if the government failed to accept their demands.

Transportation of goods from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala will also be affected as transporters there have expressed solidarity with the striking truckers in the State.

Though the truckers’ representatives claimed that the talks with the government failed, they said that the government representatives, including four Ministers, had sought time to consider their demands pertaining to sand transporters.

Among others, the sand transporters are seeking permit for transporting sand, a roll-back of the quantum of fine being imposed on transporters and withdrawal of criminal cases against them.

On the other hand, tourist taxi operators are demanding a roll-back of annual entry tax and re-introduction of weekly entry tax for tourist vehicles entering Karnataka and deferring the implementation of the mandatory education qualification of eighth standard for taxi drivers.

Assurance

South India Motor Transporters Association general secretary G.R. Shanmugappa said: “The Transport Minister has agreed to solve the transport issues. However, we have told the government that we will not withdraw the strike unless the issues of permit for sand transportation, fine and criminal cases are addressed.”

Terming Friday’s talks as a failure, secretary of Federation of State Lorry Owners and Agents Association B.V. Narayanappa said that the government has told them that there would be another round of talks on Saturday.

Transport Minister R. Ramalinga Reddy said that the government has indicated to the truckers that it is ready to consider some demands and was hopeful that the strike would be withdrawn. Besides Mr. Ramalinga Reddy, Home Minister K.J. George, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T.B. Jayachandra and Minister for Public Works H.C. Mahadevappa took part in the meeting.