Truckers go on indefinite strike; supply of essential items to be impacted

As transporters plan to keep nearly five million trucks off roads indefinitely starting Friday, the supply of essential items such as vegetables, fruits, milk etc are set to be impacted. Truckers across India announced a strike after talks regarding GST and E-way bill with Finance Minister Piyush Goyal failed to be conclusive.

They have announced a nationwide 'Chakka Jam' with the demand of removing arbitrary fines under the E-way bill, scrap exorbitant toll collection at some plazas and include diesel under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the GST Council meet scheduled on Saturday.

'The union and state governments are likely to lose Rs 10 billion revenue each day on diesel sales only as the total tax collected is Rs 38 per litre, the All India Confederation of Goods Vehicles Owner’s Association (ACOGOA) had said.

“We are not satisfied with the assurances given by the government and therefore have gone ahead with our strike,” G P Singh, a member of All India Motor Transport Congress which is an industry body for transporters, said.

On Wednesday, the Madhya Pradesh High Court upheld a whopping fine of Rs 13.2 million on a logistics company, Gati Kintetsu Ltd, for not filing a portion of e-way bill.

Portion B has details such as the transporter’s vehicle number, while Part A has other details such as the quantity and value of goods supplied.

In its petition, the company contended that it could not update Part B of the bill due to technical errors. However, the court said that the company did not raise any such grievance on the e-way bill portal. As such, Gati violated GST rules relating to e-way bill and the authority had rightly imposed the penalty, the court said.

According to Bhim Wadhwa, former President of AIMTC, “We are being charged exorbitant fines, sometimes up to 100 per cent of the total cost of the consignment, even if there is a slight human error in the e-way bill and it is becoming difficult to work. Even for diesel, the prices vary from state to state and it becomes a costlier affair, would be better if there is a uniform rate for diesel under the GST.”

'There are 400 toll plazas in the country, of which 288 are privately run, and they charge arbitrary levy from the truckers. We are protesting against the e-way bill, non-inclusion of diesel under the GST and toll,' Wadhwa said.

A 25-member AIMTC delegation met Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday for resolution of their demands.