Assuring pan-India e-tolling system by December, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari today appealed to the transporters body AIMTC to call off their proposed nationwide strike from tomorrow.
Based on the appeal, All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA) called off the strike but All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) said it would continue the same till their demands are met.
“I have assured the transporters to implement electronic toll system by December across about 325 toll plazas in the country to solve their demands of averting delays at such booths. I have also told them that the Centre will hold talks with state governments and extend this system free of cost to them,” Gadkari told reporters here.
After holding a detailed meeting with the transporters bodies separately, the minister said, “One of the bodies (AITWA) has called off the strike while AIMTC delegation has gone to meet Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over the issue of their second demand of TDS.”
Gadkari said it was not possible to scrap toll system as per the demand of the AIMTC and the government has assured them that it would provide them a wide network of good roads with no delays after the electronic toll system in which toll will be collected electronically through chips fitted in the vehicles at toll plazas.
“I have also assured them that the government is serious to run electric vehicles on roads to minimise pollution and is serious to their problems. Government is positive to find out solutions to all their problems,” he said.
AITWA President Pradeep Singhal said they will refrain from any strike. However, AIMTC President Bhim Wadhwa said they will continue with it as electronic toll system was not practical. A delegation led by Wadhwa has gone to meet Jaitley.
Transporters body AIMTC, which claims to represent 93 lakh truckers and 50 lakh bus operators, has announced an indefinite nationwide strike from October 1 against the toll collection system, saying it has become a tool for corruption and harassment.
The body had yesterday said that it is not against toll, but the toll collection system, and has demanded barrier-free movement of vehicles as well as one-time collection of taxes.
“E-tolling project of the government is a failed concept… Even their pilot project has failed. The partnering banks viz. ICICI and Axis Bank too has distanced itself from the project,” AIMTC had said.
On the other hand, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT) had said AIMTC’s suggestion to have fixed annual toll was not rational.
“AIMTC suggestion to have fixed annual toll fee of Rs 30,000 for a truck on national permit and Rs 10,000 for intrastate permit vehicle needs examination as proposal is highly flawed and irrational,” Coordinator IFTRT SP Singh said.