Kolkata, June 18: Truck owners and operators launched an indefinite nationwide strike on Monday against increasing diesel prices and a sharp hike of the third-party insurance premium. "The indefinite strike against the soaring diesel prices and a steep rise in the third party insurance premium begun this morning. About 90 lakh trucks are expected to be off the road and as of now, over 60 per cent trucks were not plying on the roads across India," the All India Confederation of Goods Vehicle Owners' Associations President Channa Reddy told IANS.
"The government's argument is that the fuel price increase was due to international prices. However, we think the reason for price increase is not due to international prices but high taxes levied by the governments, Centre and the states," Reddy said. Demanding the inclusion of diesel prices or petroleum products in the ambit Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Federation of West Bengal Truck Operators' Association Joint Secretary Sajal Ghosh said there has been a good response in the state where about 3.5 lakh trucks would not ply on the roads.
He said the Federation is also protesting police and Motor Vehicle Department officials' alleged excesses in the state. Moreover, truck owners requested the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India to de-tariff the third party insurance premium as it has done in the case of comprehensive insurance policy, Reddy said. "Since the trend of annual increase of third-party insurance premium has been continuing for last 15 years even after the opening of the insurance sector. To stop the increase per year, we have requested the IRDAI to de-tariff this. But, the authority has not responded to our demand," Reddy added. The strike is likely to cause a hike in prices of perishable goods items due to supply constraint.