Baalu appeals to transporters to call off strike

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New Delhi, Jul 2: The demands will be considered assured Road Transport and Highways Minister T R Baalu on Wednesday, July 2. He further asked the transporters to call off their nationwide strike in the interest of the national and the common man.

The appeal was made by Mr Baalu at a meeting with the representatives of the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) and the All India Transport Workers' Association (AITWA) here. The AIMTC and the AIWTA said they would discuss the matter among themselves and with the other office bearers before taking a further decision, an official release said.

Mr Baalu assured that the Department of Revenue would shortly issue a clarification on the levy of service tax on goods transport agencies.

About ad valorem duty on diesel and the forced selling of premium diesel in place of normal diesel, he said the Petroleum Ministry would soon issue an advisory to the Oil PSUs to make available normal diesel as per the requirement of the users.

On speed governors, the Minister said all aspects concerning the issue would be discussed in a meeting to be convened shortly with the State Transport Ministers, and after their concurrence the powers could be restored to the Central Government.

Regarding problems faced by transporters due to multiple toll barriers within a district, Mr Baalu directed the officers concerned to explore the possibility of designing future packages for road concessions in such a way that the entire district could be covered in one package.

On illegal toll collection, he said strict action would be taken against any defaulter with the help of the State Governments concerned.

In response to the AIMTC's demand for rolling back the increase in toll tax from February 1, 2008, Mr Baalu said the user fee was levied in perpetuity in accordance with the provisions of the National Highways Act, 1956.

For private funded projects, there is an annual hike linked to the inflation, whereas in public funded projects the hike is once in five years. Hence, the increase appears to be higher, he explained.

He also explained that the cess on diesel, which was contributed to the Central Road Fund, was used for infrastructure development, not only with regard to the National Highways Development Project but was also shared for development of state highways, rural roads as well as railway projects. The user fee collected for bridges and other amenities was passed on to the State Government for meeting the road development needs.

The Minister, however, added that AIMTC could indicate the kind of wayside amenities they require, and a separate meeting could be called to work out the plan of action.


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