New Delhi, Oct 5: The five-day-old strike by transporters was called off tonight after a meeting between the truckers body AIMTC and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, who gave an assurance that their demands will be looked into.
A committee headed by Transport Secretary Vijay Chhibber has been formed in which truckers will also have representatives to look into their demands and a report will be submitted by December 15.
"A committee has been formed headed by the (transport) secretary, which will have representatives of the transporters. All the demands that they have placed and the obstacles they are facing will be studied by the committee and submit its report by December 15," Gadkari told PTI.
Emerging after a three hour-long meeting, he said: "We will look into their demands and we will consider what we can fulfill. I appealed to them to call off their strike and they have agreed to that."
Confirming the development, All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) President Bhim Wadhwa said transporters have decided to end their stir.
They had gone on strike demanding scrapping of the present toll collection system, which AIMTC says is a tool of harassment for truckers, besides seeking a one-time payment of taxes and simplification of the TDS procedure.
As previous consultations with the government had failed to resolve the deadlock, AIMTC has also sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention in the matter.
The government has proposed electronic-toll collection system in the entire country by December, but the transporters claim this was not a practical solution as a pilot project in this regard was not successful.
When asked about details, Chhibber said the main demands of the transporters pertaining to scrapping of current toll collection system, one-time payment of taxes and simplification of the TDS procedure will be looked into by the committee.
Earlier in the day, Gadkari had said he would take up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh issues raised by the truckers, specially complaints of harassment at state border crossings.
There is another proposal for rationalising toll on which discussions were already on but a final decision could only be taken after talks with the Prime Minister, he added.
Gadkari had, however, ruled out scrapping of the toll collection system saying annualised collection, a suggestion by the truckers, was not possible owing to distribution issues of the collected amount.
"Government cannot scrap toll as half of about 325 toll booths pertain to private parties which may seek huge claims from the government which can run into Rs 2-3 lakh crore," Gadkari had said yesterday.
According to industry body Assocham, "the strike by truckers has also impacted government revenues worth over Rs 3,600 lakh realised through road transport" affecting "20 billion tonnes-km of freight traffic movement".
AIMTC boasts of having 87 lakh trucks and 20 lakh buses and tempos across the country under its fold. According to reports from states, movement of goods was impacted in Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, among other places.
Supply of essential goods such as milk, vegetables and medicines had been kept out of the purview of the strike. Another truckers body All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA) kept away from the strike.