It was heartening to lean that the transport strike which had paralyzed the consumer market has ended with the State Government agreeing to most of the demands of heavy transporter like trucks, tankers and lorries. The Madhya Pradesh transporters ended the strike after a three hour long meeting with minister Govind Singh Rajput at his bungalow.
Though the cash-starved government has refused to consider their demand on lowering of VAT on fuel, the minister and his team of Bureaucrats agreed to their other demands including the scrapping of the mandatory lifetime tax on old vehicles. For old vehicles, now the transporters can deposit road tax on quarterly or yearly basis.
They can, in fact deposit lifetime tax at one go. The transport operators have however been given the assurance that their demand on lowering the VAT on fuel will take about a month to decide as it was the Chief Minister Kamal Nath, who will have the final say on the matter.
The traders strike saw unprecedented scenes in Indore city of Madhya Pradesh as almost all the fuel pumps went dry over the tankers association also joining the strike. The police had to escort fuel tankers and regulate chaos. The truck operators had gone on strike on October 5 in protest against the VAT hike, which is the highest in the country, life-time road tax and the alleged extortion by the RTO officials at check-posts.
The State Government has hiked VAT on fuel by 5% in September 20, as a temporary measure to mop up funds for flood relief in the state which experienced a record rains and flooding. The State Government generates a revenue of Rs.1,000 crore from tax from trucks, tankers and buses.
There are about 15 lakh trucks and tankers in Madhya Pradesh, five lakh of which run within the state territory. In the festive season the Government was under a tremendous pressure to resolve the strike issue as it was incurring heavy losses due to strike.