Southern truckers strike from Aug 1

Southern truckers strike from Aug 1

"If there is no review of the diesel price hike and toll policy no truck will operate in the South from August 1," All-India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) president GR Shanmugappa told reporters here today.

About 22 lakh trucks, employing 45 lakh drivers and cleaners will join the strike, Shanmugappa added.

An 'emergency meeting' of the AIMTC has been called on July 26 to consider a nation-wide strike, he further said.

The proposed strike is expected to cause a loss of Rs 5,000 crore to the economy, with cargo movement and from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry getting affected, Shanmugappa said.

The government had increased diesel prices by Rs 2 a litre on June 25 and it had also announced that disel prices will also be market-determined in due course, as in the case of petrol now. Opposition parties, including BJP and the Left had also called a national strike on July 5 against the fuel price increase.

Demanding immediate roll back of the diesel price hike, Shanmugappa alleged that price deregulation has been done to help private companies which will now fix prices arbitrarily. "No transporter can afford to buy diesel if prices keep on changing," he said.
As regards the toll policy for the national highways, the AIMTC chief said the private builders and operators (of roads) in the South are given a free hand to charge heavy toll and the government is "least concerned" with the viability of transporters' business. This is being done in violation of an agreement between the truckers' body and the government which had stipulated that a minimum distance between two toll plazas will be 80 km, he pointed out.

However, "in the South, private players have built toll plazas after every 35-40 km," former AIMTC president OP Agarwal added.

The AIMTC has also demanded immediate withdrawal of the 10 percent anti-dumping duty on tyre imports, stating there has been an increase of about 28-30 percent in prices in the past three months alone.