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Truckers threaten to lauch indefinite strike

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 21 (UNI) Over four million trucks in the country will go off the road indefinitely from June one with total stoppage of loading and unloading of cargoes in protest against the government's ''indifferent'' attitude to the truckers' demands for streamlining the insurance and tax structure for the industry.

The decision was taken at the National Convention of All India Confederation of Goods Vehicle Owners' Association (ACOGOA) at Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh recently.

ACOGOA Vice-President Chittranjan Dass said high-handedness by insurance companies in the matter of mandatory third party insurance, arbitrary levying of taxes by states on vehicles passing through their territories, imposition of high toll tax on highways and anomalies in TDS from hire charges paid to goods carriages were the major concerns of truckers.

''We are particularly aggrieved by the indifferent response to our representations by the Union Finance Ministry, the Road Transport Ministry, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) and various state governments,'' Mr Dass said.

It was decided at the Rajamundry National Convention that truck unions would also hold peaceful demonstrations in all the states and Union Territories.

He said formal notices had already been sent to the Central and state governments, IRDA and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) that unless the issues were resolved ''fairly and equitably'', a sustained agitation, including suspension of services, would be launched from June 1.

The ACOGOA said insurance companies were increasingly adopting a ''recalcitrant'' attitude in respect of issuing Third Party motor insurance to commercial vehicles, and were also defying the IRDA's direction with regard to the issuance of new policies or renewal of existing policies.

The convention took note of serious anomaly that while it was mandatory for truck and bus operators to possess a third party insurance policy, all the private insurance companies and some PSUs ''are simply refusing with contempt any proposal for such legal liability policy.'' It also pointed out that the life of driver, helper and four coolies were previously insured. ''But now in many places, the helper and coolies have been excluded from the ambit of insurance policy,'' it added.

Mr Dass said truckers strongly favoured the scrapping of all double taxes and free inter-state movement of heavy vehicles.

Initially, the Orissa government had started issuing 'Green Card' to vehicles and charging a fee, which followed with collection of a standard fine from all vehicles transiting through the state, which is known as ''Mechanical Tax.'' ''Instead of pressurising the Orissa government to refrain from collecting this discriminatory double tax on vehicles registered in its state, the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal have now also been charging this tax,'' he pointed out.

With regard to toll tax, he said the government had adopted a policy of charging toll, but it had failed to identify the ''users'' in case of commercial vehicles.'' Mr Dass pointed out that goods carriages were already having their share of ''road use charge'' directly in the form of road cess on diesel and thus paying for using every single kilometre of the highways. ''However, the real beneficiaries of modern road network, such as consigners/owners of cargo carried on goods carriages, have been spared from their share of road use charge.'' UNI/SKS YA RK1435

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