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Truckers call off strike, toll tax hike frozen for a year

Press Trust Of India
Jul 04, 2008 at 08:25am IST

New Delhi: The three-day-old truckers' strike has been called off following an agreement between the transporters and the government after marathon negotiations that lasted for about 10 hours.

The truckers have been demanding roll-back of hike in toll tax, honouring of service tax agreement of 2004, and availability of non-branded diesel and removal of speed governors on highways.

"All our issues on service tax have been resolved and the provisions of agreement reached in 2004 will be honoured," All India Motor Transport Congress president Charan Singh Lohara told reporters here after the meeting.

BACK TO WORK: Truckers say their issues on service tax have been resolved.

He said a committee would be formed consisting of members from NHAI, Department of Road, Transport and Highway and other government officials and six members from AIMTC to look into all toll related issues, including user fee rates.

The committee will submit its report within nine months from the date of its constitution, which could be extendable by three months.

"Toll rates applicable prior to December 2007 will be applied henceforth and there will be no increase in toll for a period of one year on government-funded 770 km national highway stretches," Transport Secretary Brahm Dutt said.

Emerging from the meeting Finance and Revenue Secretary P V Bhide said the service tax agreement of 2004 would be followed.

"Even our problems relating to speed governors and mechanical tax (applied in West Bengal, Orissa and Tamil Nadu) have also been resolved," Lohara said and added all service tax notices sent to truckers would be withdrawn as per the agreement.

Dutt said the government would also set up a permanent mechanism by constituting a committee under the chairmanship of NHAI for monitoring, reviewing and overseeing of toll systems.

The committee will have the powers to examine the standard and service levels provided by operators and will recommend suitable corrective measures, he added.

On the contentious issue of toll-tax on private funded roads, Dutt said it would be collected and revised as per agreement with the government and the developers.

NHAI Chairman N Gokulram said due to the freezing of hike in toll-tax, there would be some drop in revenue collection, however, declining to give exact details.

On the demand for availability of non-branded diesel, the petroleum ministry had earlier sent a direction to all oil marketing companies to make the fuel available in adequate quantities in all their outlets across the country.

The marathon meeting that began last evening lasted till small hours this morning and was attended by Secretary and Joint-Secretary of Transport Ministry, Revenue Secretary and NHAI Chairman and representatives of AIMTC.

The truckers had stopped service since July 2 midnight and held a series of meetings with government officials.

The strike by called by AIMTC, apex body of transporters that claims to represent nearly 4.8 million truck and two million tempo operators, had crippled goods movement in various parts of the country.

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