Movement of goods across the country was affected on Thursday as lakhs of trucks kept off the roads against the toll system.
Even though the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), which has called for the nationwide indefinite truck strike, announced that essential commodities like milk, vegetables and medicines were exempted, delivery of other goods was reportedly hit across India.
Trade union sources told IANS that the truck strike will have a major financial impact with losses running into hundreds of crores. The impact could be felt from Friday onwards as the strike is indefinite.
The truckers' associations, under the banner of AIMTC, want the government to scrap the present toll system. In recent talks, the transport ministry had said that the government was ready to introduce e-toll (electronic toll) system by December after the AIMTC claimed that toll barriers have become dens of corruption, harassment and extortion.
AIMTC, however, rejected the government offer of switching to e-toll system. More than 16 lakh trucks went off the roads in Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh on Thursday as part of the indefinite strike by the truckers against the toll system.
The truckers' body wants one-time payment of taxes besides simplification of Tax Deducted at Source (TDS). The truckers' associations have maintained that they will not run the trucks until their demands are met.
"The strike is likely to cause losses worth Rs 1,500 crore to the truckers and over Rs 10,000 crore to the government on a daily basis," AIMTC president Bhim Wadhwa said.
The AIMTC claims that it represents about 87 lakh trucks as well as 20 lakh buses and tempos.
Another truckers' body, All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA), however, has not joined the strike.
The president of Federation of Karnataka Lorry Owners' Association, B Chennareddy, said that more than 50,000 trucks in Karnataka have not joined the strike called by the AIMTC.
"Most of their (AIMTC) demands are too silly," Reddy said.