Trucks and lorries stayed off the road in the city and elsewhere in the state as operators’ bodies began a country-wide indefinite strike from Monday in support of a 10-point charter of demands.
The supply of commodities was hit as trucks and lorries went off the streets from 6 am. Operators of around 90 per cent of about 10,000 inter-state trucks entering the city are on strike. Traffic came to a standstill on many highways as hundreds of trucks, not allowed entry into the city, were stranded.
Special secretary to the transport department, Kashinath Behra, spoke to officials of the ministry of surface transport on Monday urging them to intervene. “We are keeping a watch on the developments and taking steps to maintain normalcy,” he said.
Deputy commissioner of police, traffic, M.K. Singh contacted the striking transport operators, urging them to ensure that traffic was not disrupted by haphazard parking of trucks.
The strike has been called by 385 transport bodies affiliated to the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) and the All India Confederation of Goods’ Vehicles Owners’ Association. They are opposing the VAT, demanding withdrawal of the proposed cess on diesel, regulation of excise and imposition of customs duties to stabilise diesel prices.
“We are also against the move to scrap vehicles over 15 years old. Excise concessions should be in place first,” said K.K. Bansal of the AIMTC. He said the strike would continue till the Centre conceded to the demands. Other state-level demands include the withdrawal of entry tax, implementation of a minimum freight rate, decentralisation of national permit and reduction of motor vehicle fees.
Co-ordination committee members said petrol pumps in the state will be affected as oil tanker operators are expected to join the strike from Tuesday.
A spokesman for Indian Oil Corporation said general manager of the company P.K. Basu had spoken to transport secretary H.P. Roy to inform that installations would remain open on Tuesday and security could be given to tankers willing to ply.
Petroleum dealers said if the oil tankers’ bodies joined the strike, the 1,100 petrol pumps in the city and districts would soon go dry as most of them have only stock enough for three to four days.