Lakhs of trucks kept off the roads on Thursday as transporters went on a nationwide strike called by the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) to oppose the toll system.
Delivery of goods was affected in most states. Delivery of essential commodities like milk, vegetables and medicines, however, were exempted from the strike.
Trade insiders told IANS that the strike could lead to losses running into hundreds of crores of rupees to the trading community, truckers and even the government.
Talks between the AIMTC and the transport ministry failed after truckers rejected the government's offer of implementing an e-toll (electronic toll) system by December.
The government has ruled out scrapping of the toll system.
The AIMTC has claimed that toll barriers have become dens of corruption, harassment and extortion.
About 16 lakh trucks went off the roads in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on Thursday as part of the indefinite strike by the truckers to protest against the present toll system.
Movement of goods to Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur and other major towns was affected severely by the strike.
The truckers' body is demanding one-time payment of taxes besides simplification of Tax Deducted at Source (TDS).
The truck operators in the two Telugu states are also seeking a single-permit system in view of the bifurcation of undivided Andhra Pradesh. They want Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to have single-permit agreement so that vehicles can play between the two states on payment of a fixed tax.
Truck operators in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh also joined the strike, affecting the movement of goods.
In Madhya Pradesh, supplies of essential goods to the state were hit.
Truckers' association president Paramvir Singh told IANS: "We demand the scrapping of the toll system, and changes in the road pollution and safety 2015 regulations. The state has more than 40,000 trucks and they will not run until our demands are met."
"The strike is likely to cause Rs.1,500 crore-worth of losses to truckers and over Rs.10,000 crore of loss to the government on a daily basis," AIMTC president Bhim Wadhwa said.
The AIMTC claims that it represents about 87 lakh trucks, and 20 lakh buses and tempos.
Another truckers' body, All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA), has not joined the strike.
Around 1.70 lakh truckers from Odisha on Thursday joined the nationwide indefinite strike called by the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) demanding scrapping of the present toll system.
The truckers' body is also demanding one-time payment of taxes besides simplification of tax deducted at source (TDS).
As the trucks remained off the road, transportation of goods to various places in the state was badly affected.
However, essential commodities and perishable goods have been kept out of the purview of the strike.
"We were forced to go on strike after several unsuccessful discussions with the central government. We have no option left but to go on strike," said Odisha Truck Owners' Federation general secretary Rabinarayan Satpathy.
He said the central government has increased the number of toll gates following which truckers were facing numerous problems including wastage of fuel due to standing and idling trucks and delayed deliveries.
The truckers' body in Odisha is also demanding non-implementation of green tax proposed by the state government. The government has announced that a green tax would be imposed on vehicles older than 15 years to discourage such vehicles from plying.
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