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Truckers continue strike; disrupts goods supply to some areas

nationwide strike

New Delhi :  Demanding scrapping of the present toll system, apex transporters body AIMTC continued its nationwide strike for the second consecutive day today, disrupting supply of goods to various parts of the country.

While supply of essential commodities like milk, vegetables and medicines have been kept out of the purview of the strike, its impact was seen in various parts of the country, including Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, among other places.

“We will continue our strike till the government comes out with some practical solution to our problem. We are not against paying toll but we are demanding it in an annualised form.

“The electronic-toll collection system as promised by the government is not practical,” All India Motor Transport Congress President Bhim Wadhwa told PTI.

Wadhwa said the cumulative loss to truckers on account of the strike, which began yesterday at 6 am, will be about Rs 3,000 crore, while to the government it would be over Rs 20,000 crore in two days.

However, the government has refused to budge from its stance and said it cannot scrap the toll collection system.

Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had said yesterday, “It is up to them to continue their strike. Government cannot scrap toll. We have already assured to implement electronic tolling system pan-India by December. I appeal them to call off the strike.”

AIMTC claims to have 87 lakh trucks and 20 lakh buses and tempos across the country under its fold.

Another truckers body All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA) has decided to keep away from the strike.

AIMTC is demanding scrapping of the existing toll system, saying it is a tool of harassment, while it is seeking a one-time payment of taxes and simplification of TDS procedure.

Wadhwa said E-tolling project of the government is a failed concept and the partnering banks like ICICI and Axis Bank too have distanced themselves from the project.

He added that one of their demands is to bring TDS provisions on transport trade in Pre-Finance Act 2015, and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has assured them to call a meeting with CBDT Chairman Anita Kapur on this.

On the other hand, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT) said AIMTC’s suggestion to have fixed annual toll was not rational.

“AIMTC suggestion to have fixed annual toll fee of Rs 30,000 for a truck on national permit and Rs 10,000 for intra-state permit vehicle needs examination as proposal is highly flawed and irrational,” IFTRT Coordinator S P Singh said.

He added: “IFTRT has analysed the true issues of TDS on transport contractors and their misunderstanding of the real facts relating to amended Section 194C (6) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 as effective from 1st June 2015 in which the exemption to truckers from TDS deduction has been extended to transporter owning not more than 10 trucks.”

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