India truck protest enters its eighth day
Wasantha Rupasinghe and Kranti Kumara
27 July 2018
A nationwide indefinite protest launched July 20 by the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), a lorry-owners’ association, has paralyzed truck-transportation of goods across India. The protest has begun to have a major impact on the availability of essential products, substantially increased prices of many vegetables, and caused manufacturers, including in the country’s massive garment sector, to lay off workers.
This is the second nationwide protests by truckers since June of this year.
The truck-owners, who include both large truck companies and owner-drivers, have four main demands. The first is for diesel prices to be taxed at 18 percent under the nationwide GST (Goods and Services Tax), rather than the widely varying taxes imposed by each state. The second is for fuel prices to be reviewed once every three months rather than daily. The third is for the dismantling of toll booths at state borders, which the association alleges costs them 1.5 trillion rupees ($22 billion) annually, due to time and fuel-loss from idling at the toll booths. The fourth demand is for a reduction in the high insurance premiums they pay.
Despite the protests causing widespread economic and price increases throughout the country, creating shortages of raw materials used in manufacturing and curtailing exports, the rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has not only made no overtures it is taking an increasingly hardline.
A high-official with the Ministry of Transport and Highways told the business daily Business Today, “Going on an indefinite strike knowing it will affect supply of essential goods is blackmail. Some of their demands are not even genuine. They cannot be…