Truckers on the warpath with NoTruck4Me campaign

T E Raja Simhan | | Updated on: Sep 05, 2019

Decide not to buy trucks for 3 months in protest against alleged lack of govt support

Already smarting under an economic slowdown, which is manifesting itself in the form of a slump in auto demand, the Centre and the markets could possibly be looking at another jolt, this time from the truckers.

Upset as they are with the ‘faulty policies’ of the government, the truckers have launched a campaign called NoTruck4Me, as part of which they have decided not to buy new trucks for three months.

With participation from lakhs of truckers, the NoTruck4Me movement wants to send a strong signal to the Centre on the sufferings of the road transport sector. The movement, which is slowly spreading nationwide, comes amid plunging commercial vehicle sales.

Already, large fleet operators such as Sri Srinivasa Roadlines, BLR Logistics, OM Logistics, North Eastern Carrying Corporation, CTI Group (Kolkata) and Associated Roadways (Hyderabad) have decided not to buy vehicles for three months. Many of their peers are joining the protest each day following an appeal from two large truck industry associations — the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) and the All India Transporters Welfare Association (AITWA) — to urge the Centre to act on their concerns.

AIMTC President SK Mittal, in a circular, urged members not to purchase new vehicles till the government considers its demands. These include the rationalisation of presumptive income under Section 44AE of the I-T Act on laden weight; GST exemption on third-party premium for transport vehicles; revocation of 2 per cent TDS on transport sector and additional 2 per cent TDS on cash withdrawal on ₹1 crore per annum, especially for the road transport sector; and reduction in the GST on the purchase of new and old transport vehicles.

The AITWA pointed out trucks and tyres are still categorised as luxury goods in the GST regime and taxed at 28 per cent, and that there is a bias in favour of insurers at the cost of truck owners. “In strong protest against the above atrocities the road transport sector has decided to invoke an economic embargo by not purchasing any commercial vehicles for three months,” it said.

The three-month purchase embargo is expected to help in the utilisation of idle truck capacity. “This is a peaceful signature protest without any disruption. It may inconvenience our trade partners — the vehicle manufacturers — but they have to understand the genuineness of our issues,” AITWA said.

“The government is working for big corporates and the auto sector. There is an over 60 per cent decline in fleet utilisation and more than 30 lakh jobs have been lost. However, the government is oblivious to the plight of this sector,” said Naveen Gupta, Secretary-General, AIMTC. The Indian truck industry employs over five crore people, with nearly one crore trucks plying.

Small operators

More than 85 per cent of the industry is made up of small operators with one-five trucks each. They are the worst hit by the slowdown. Despite repeated representation, the Centre has not taken any step, Gupta told BusinessLine . The sector is under acute financial strain on account of retrograde and regressive policies, excessive taxation and corruption, he added. Ashok Leyland and Tata Motors declined to comment for this article.

Published on September 05, 2019
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