Truckers' strike from today

A section of lorry owners in the State has decided to go on an indefinite strike from Thursday protesting against the increase in toll rates across the country.

The Federation of Karnataka State Lorry Owners and Agents Association announced that it would go on an indefinite strike from midnight of August 18, along with associations from southern states such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, as also Pondicherry and Maharashtra.

Speaking to reporters, Association President G R Shanmugappa said they wanted the government to roll back the toll hike as per the agreement signed between the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) and the Centre on December 4, 2010.

“There have been steep hikes in the last few months. For instance, to travel from Hubli to Bangalore, we had to spend Rs 900 earlier. Now, we are shelling out Rs 2,000,” he said.

Centre flayed

Shanmugappa flayed the Centre for agreeing to hike toll rates on roads that were yet to be completed. “The Centre has signed agreements to expand four-lane highways to six-lane. But the concessionaires have already begun collecting the higher toll on these roads,” he said. He gave the example of the Chennai-Bangalore highway that has been handed over to a concessionaire. “No work has started on that road even now, but they have already hiked the toll rates,” he added.

The Association has demanded that a uniform toll policy be adopted across the country. “We have different toll rates for vehicles in North India, North East and South India. We need a single toll policy,” said Shanmugappa.

There is also a need for the State government to lower the sales tax on diesel. “Karnataka has one of the highest diesel taxes in the country. When everything else is taxed at 15 per cent, why is diesel taxed at 25 per cent?” he said.

The Bangalore Tourist Taxi Owners Association will join the lorry drivers association in protesting against the hike in toll rates. The Association will have a one or two-day strike from Friday, said an Association representative.

‘Fake and misleading’

The Federation of Karnataka Lorry Owners Association -- a rival organisation of the Federation of Karnataka State Lorry Owners and Agents’ Association --  has stated that its members will not go on strike, and termed the strike call ‘fake and misleading’.

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