CHENNAI: Amid bickering in truckers’ associations, an indefinite strike in the southern states is expected to begin on March 30 to highlight various demands, including a cut in third party premium that has been increased by 50 per cent.
The South India Motor Transport Association (SIMTA) gave the strike call after a meeting in Chennai on March 11. Sources said differences with the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) spurred SIMTA to announce the strike despite the fact that the all-India body had already called for a similar agitation from April 20.
It is the choice of vice-president of AIMTC and appointment of certain members to the managing committee that are said to have created friction.
Notable among the demands put forth by SIMTA are rationalising fee collection at toll plazas on national highways, doing away with toll in plazas where the capital amount had been recovered and revoking the increase in Value Added Tax on petrol and diesel in Tamil Nadu.
However, several leaders in the largest truckers’ body, State Federation of Lorry Owners’ Associations-TN (SFLOA), question the rationale behind the strike when many demands are not relevant to the State.
“All the demands except the one on VAT hike on fuel in Tamil Nadu are to be dealt with by the Centre. So, observing a strike only in the South does not make sense,” rued R Nallathambi, former president of SFLOA-TN.
Sella Rajamani, president, Tamil Nadu Sand Lorry Owners’ Federation, echoed Nallathambi. “I feel there is no need to observe the strike in the southern states when the matter requires the Centre’s attention,” he said. However, as a token support, sand lorries will join the strike for a day on March 30, he said.
But C Dhanaraj, secretary of SFLOA-TN, had a different take. He said the indefinite strike would certainly evoke a better response from operators. “The revised rate of third party insurance premium will be effective from April 1. So, we decided to call the strike from March 30. What is wrong in it?” he asked.
Meanwhile, representatives of AIMTC on Tuesday had a ‘positive’ meeting with Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Mansukh L Mandaviya in Delhi.
“We had a meeting with the minister today. Our demands were discussed. The minister assured us to sort out the issues in a few days,” Bal Malkit Singh, a former president of AIMTC, told Express over phone.