Gujarat truckers join nationwide transport strike

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Ahmedabad, Jul 2 (UNI) Truckers in Gujarat joined the nationwide strike, called by All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), to push their demand for abolishment of toll tax and rationalisation of duty of diesel.

''Around three lakh small and big transport vehicles have struck the work and they are parked off the road,'' said Om Hari Sharma, vice president of the All Gujarat Motor Transport Association, yesterday.

AIMTC, the apex body of the transporters, has given the call for an indefinate transport strike. It had asked all its members to stop all movement of goods on the roads till their demands are met by the government, he informed.

''We want the ad valorem duty on diesel to be replaced with fixed rate of duty on per litre of the fuel,'' Mr Sharma said.

AIMTC has alleged that the government was encashing the hike in crude oil prices and forcing the truckers to buy premium diesel at higher and unregulated prices.

Mukesh Dave, secretary of All Gujarat Truck Transporters Association, said the government was also using the toll taxes on highways as a tool to earn extra revenue by continuing to charge the tax even after the recovery of investment in construction of highways. The government had increased the tax by 50 per cent in February 2008 instead of removing it.

There are three lakh trucks in Gujarat, including 35,000 vehicles in Ahmedabad and one lakh trucks in Saurastra and Kutch region. Due to the transport strike, businesses in Gujarat will have to incur a loss of Rs 200 crore per day. The daily turnover of transporters is at around Rs 2,000 crore.

The strike will affect brass industry in Jamnagar, automobile industry in Rajkot and engineering industry in Ahmedabad. Gujarat imports paints and chemicals, pig iron, kota stone, coal and vegetables from neighbouring states in a big way, he added.

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