Opposing toll system, truckers begin a country-wide strike

PTI New Delhi | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on October 01, 2015

Bhim Wadhwa, President of AIMTC

“The strike is likely to cause Rs 1,500 crore losses to truckers and over Rs 10,000 crore loss to government." File Photo   -  The Hindu

AIMTC terms toll system a tool of harassment and demands one-time payment of taxes besides simplification of TDS.

Trucks have stopped loading and unloading goods, except for a few essentials, across the country in protest against the toll fees and the government’s decision to deduct two per cent tax at source, according to the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC).

The transporters’ union, which says its members own 87 lakh trucks, had called for an indefinite strike starting October 1.

Transporters say that the government should collect road user fee or toll from truckers through indirect taxes, instead of collecting the funds at toll plazas.

“We are not against paying tolls. But, we are also harassed near toll plazas. Moreover, the government has also been collecting a lot of money from us through the cess,” said Bhim Wadhwa, President, AIMTC, adding that the BJP had spoken about having toll-free roads when it came to power.

Wadhwa told BusinessLine that the strike is more of “ Jan Hit Andolan” (pro-people movement) wherein they want removal of “toll plazas”.

SP Singh, Senior Fellow of Indian Foundation for Transport Research and Training, however, said a clearer picture of the strike’s impact would emerge over the next few days.

“Usually the effectiveness of transport strikes becomes clearer over a few days. Some States, such as Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and some centres in Tamil Nadu, have seen some impact today. Tomorrow (October 2) being a national holiday, there is unlikely to be loading/unloading activity,” said Singh.

Some of the large, organised transport players did not respond to BusinessLine’s queries on whether there had been any impact on their operations.

Toll plazas

In effect, AIMTC says its demand is not limited to seamless transport across toll plazas – which can be met through implementation of electronic toll collection – but also included toll charges imposed on truckers.

While the demand to have an electronic toll collection can be implemented faster, changing the level of toll charges is difficult to implement, says experts.

“A trucker operating on the New Delhi-Bengaluru route has to pay ₹21,000 as toll. A trucker operating within NCR will pay a maximum of ₹800. It is difficult to define a common toll rate for truckers,” said Singh.

Truckers are also concerned over two per cent tax deducted at source and are seeking a roll-back. However, Singh said this move affects only those truck owners who own more than 10 trucks, adding that in India, over 90 per cent truck-owners have less than 10 trucks.

Published on October 01, 2015

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