The two-day nation-wide token strike by truckers in support of their various demands, including bringing diesel under the GST regime, has halted movement of goods across Karnataka from Monday.
"All trucks have stopped plying since 6 a.m. across Karnataka, holding up movement of goods and parcels within and across the state till 6 p.m. on Tuesday," All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) south zone General Secretary GR Shanmugappa told IANS here.
The 48-hour strike ahead of Diwali is intended to make the central and state governments agree on bringing diesel under the Good and Services Tax (GST) regime, have an alternative collection of toll on highways and ensure transparency at check-posts across the country.
"About four lakh trucks are at standstill across the state as about 90 associations affiliated to our all-India apex body (AIMTC) in Karnataka are participating in the strike in support of our major demands," reiterated Shanmugappa.
About a million people, including drivers, cleaners, porters and their support staff were also participating in the two-day strike across the state.
Accusing the Centre and state governments of being indifferent to the road transport sector, AIMTC General Secretary Naveen Kumar Gupta said the truckers would go on indefinite strike from mid-November if their main demands were not met by then.
"As we ferry goods and parcels through intra-state and inter-state routes across the country, a rationalised Value Added Tax (VAT) and uniform excise on diesel in all states would reduce our operational cost and benefit all stakeholders," asserted Gupta.
Though the Goods and Services Tax has brought relief to truck operators at the inter-state check posts in terms of tax and octroi payments, daily payment at toll gates within and across the states has turned into a nightmare due to long queues, wastage of fuel and traffic pile ups at their entry and exit points.
"We are not against toll collection if its objective is to mobilise funds for maintaining state roads and national highways. As the electronic toll collection (ETC) has not been viable or used in all states, the government should find an alternative mechanism to collect the toll without holding our trucks for long," said Gupta.
Gupta and Shanmugam also lamented over the massive corruption and harassment in the transport sector, especially at RTOs (road transport offices) and check posts.
"Ever since the GST was introduced (July 1), our drivers and support staff are relieved of the paper work, as we don't have to pay inter-state taxes like VAT, octroi and other levies on goods at check posts. But what about delays and harassment our people face daily in paying GST or submitting the proof," asked Gupta.