Dhubri, Feb. 10: The Goalpara Truck Owners’ Association (GTOA) has threatened to stop plying their vehicles to carry coal to Assam — for an indefinite period — from various locations, including Nangalbibra from February 17 if the illegal checkgates on Garo hills roads are not withdrawn on or before February 16.
The association’s move against illegal and unauthorised checkgates which have been collecting huge amount of money from truckers has been supported by truck owners’ associations in Kamrup, Krishnai and Jogighopa.
Apart from them, Goalpara and Jogighopa Labours’ Unions and North Eastern Truck Owners’ Association too extended their support to the agitation programmes.
The association alleged that truck drivers engaged in carrying coal from Nangalbibra and Jaji of the Garo hills districts have to cough up on an average Rs. 30,000 at the unauthorised checkgates between Rongmil and Dainadubi on National Highway 62.
“There are as many as 21 checkgates on the 35km stretch of NH 62 from Rongmil to Dainadubi of Garo hills of which only two belong to the Meghalaya government. We do not know who are collecting money in the name of taxes and revenues and where the money is going,” president of the association Abul Kalam Hussain, alleged.
Hussain said owners of nearly 8,000 trucks of Goalpara, Krishnai, Jogighopa and Kamrup district, including owners of 4,000 trucks of Goalpara district, engaged in carrying coal from the mines of Garo hills to Jogighopa are fed up with this illegal and unauthorised collection of tax.
They will stop plying of all trucks to Nangalbibra and Jaji from February 17 if the Meghalaya government does not withdraw the illegal checkgates by February 16.
“If they do not take action against the checkgates within seven days from February 17, the association will stage road blockades to stop plying of tankers carrying fuel and trucks carrying LPG cylinders,” Hussain said.
Sources in the GTOA said they were compelled to launch the agitation against setting up of unauthorised checkgates as they had been incurring huge losses for a long time.
Drivers of trucks from Assam have to cough up around Rs 30,000 while those of trucks with Meghalaya registration numbers have to pay Rs 13,000, the association alleged.
Nearly 70,000 people, including truck owners, drivers, handymen, labourers and others directly involved in coal trade would be affected if the Meghalaya government did not take prompt action against the illegal checkgates, a coal trader in Jogighopa said.