Over 4.5 lakh lorries in Tamil Nadu were off the roads on Monday following the strike call given by the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC). AIMTCspokesperson R Sukumar said more than 50 lakh workers were affected by the strike to press for demands like reduction of diesel price by Rs 10 and VAT by 4%, reduction in tyre prices by 35% and cut in import duty on tyre and reduction in National Permit levy from Rs 5,000 to Rs1,500. He added the truckers have submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister M Karunanidhi seeking his intervention to end the strike by accepting their demands,
Reports from Coimbatore, the textile and engineering products hub of the country, said about 18,000 lorries in the district participated in the strike. The Coimbatore District Lorry owners association secretary, Kaliyaperumal said the government increased the price of diesel thrice as crude oil prices rose to touch $147 a barrel. “What prevented it from reducing the price when the international oil prices have crashed to the new low of $37’’ , he asked.
The truckers strike, if continues, will hit not only trade and industry but also the everyday life of ordinary citizens as vegetables and other domestic consumer goods would become scarce and costlier. The impact would be harsher as the Tamil festival of Pongal is fast approaching, he added. Exporters would be the worst affected. They are already reeling under the recession and power cuts. Chairman of Tirupur Exporters Association (TEA) A Sakthivel said, “The strike will create a lot of trouble for the exporters who are already facing problems due to cancellation of orders and reduction of prices for the garments exported.
The major concern is that if the garments are not shipped in time there will be cancellation of present and future orders. The exporters are already struggling to cope with the ongoing recession in the US and the EU and reduction of orders from these markets, increased prices of inputs including transaction cost’’. He has sought the intervention of the Prime Minister and finance minister Manmohan Singh “to settle the issue amicably and save the export industry’’. Tamil Nadu Mini Lorry Owners and Suppliers Association went on an indefinite strike from Monday by suspending lorry services from midnight.
Addressing a press conference here, association president T Jesudas said the lorry owners in Tamil Nadu, while supporting the All India Motor transport Congress, Delhi, also demanded the government to bring down the prices of diesel with immediate effect. Despite a steep decline in the oil prices in the international market from 147 dollars a barrel to 42 dollars, both the Central and State governments have not brought down the prices of diesel, he bemoaned.
The association also blamed the government for not maintaining the roads properly and the result was damage to the lorry tyres and the vehicle also. While demanding an end to unnecessary road toll systems, the association wanted the Centre to abolish service taxes on lorries and trucks. Moreover, there should be a crackdown on buses transporting goods, he said. â€œThe buses are for transporting people and not goods and they dont have to pay taxes for this, said A Ganesh Bangera, general secretary of the association. The safety of the lorry drivers on the highways should be ensured and the law enforcement agencies should stop foisting cases on them, he added.