The fear of one more lorry strike is gripping Karnataka as lorry owners in the State affiliated to the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) on Monday threatened to launch an indefinite agitation from the midnight of April 4 in response to a call given by the AIMTC if their four-point demands were not heeded before March 31 by the Centre.
Addressing presspersons here on Monday, AIMTC president G.R. Shanmugappa said the lorry owners were demanding reduction in toll rates on the roads built by private operators, reduction in fees for getting a national road permit, withdrawal of anti-dumping duty on imported tyres and reduction in diesel prices. He alleged that private builders were collecting 200 per cent additional toll when compared with the government-built highways.
Terming this harassment, he demanded that there be a uniform toll structure for trucks on both the government and private toll-roads.
Mr. Shanmugappa said presently owners of the trucks travelling across States had to pay a hefty fee of Rs. 1.5 lakh a year and demanded that it be reduced to Rs. 15,000 a year.
“It will not result in revenue loss for the government as the number of trucks which have national permit was expected to increase from the present 8.20 lakh to 30 lakh if the fee was reduced,” he said.
Claiming that the foreign tyres, especially the Chinese ones, were cheaper by about Rs. 8,000 than the indigenous tyres, he demanded that anti-dumping duty imposed on foreign tyres be withdrawn. Besides, the local production of tyres was not enough to meet the entire demand.
He further demanded that diesel prices be reduced, particularly in Karnataka, where he said the fuel prices were higher than those prevailing in the neighbouring States.