“Unbridled” hike in fuel prices coupled with extortion at border check-posts in states has hit truckers hard and if the government fails to intervene, disruption of transport services cannot be ruled out, transporters body AIMTC said on Wednesday (June 17).
The All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) is the apex umbrella body of transporters, representing about 95 lakh truckers and other entities.
Petrol price on Wednesday was hiked by 55 paise per litre and diesel by 60 paise a litre, marking the 11th consecutive day of increase in rates that now totals to ₹6.02 for petrol and ₹6.4 for diesel.
“Unbridled petrol and diesel price hike and inaction on the corruption prevalent at border check-posts in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Delhi etc at the hands of RTOs and police is getting unbearable. The transport fraternity has had enough and in case the RTO corruption is not weeded out now, there could be severe disruption in the offing,” AIMTC President Kultaran Singh Atwal said.
In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister last week, the AIMTC had alleged that sums ranging from ₹1,200 to ₹3,000 per vehicle per entry are being charged by those deployed at the state borders, especially in Madhya Pradesh and if the payment is refused, the vehicle is detained and fined on one pretext or the other.
The AIMTC said extortion of truckers is fomenting agitation and trouble among the road transport fraternity of India and urged the Prime Minister to intervene before it is too late to curb the corruption menace.
“The road transport sector is already battered by the financial breakdown and economic stress due to corona pandemic and lockdowns. Thanks to the insensitivity of the government to its precarious conditions and apathy to the Minimum Rescue Package, asked for, the cross-section of the transport fraternity vent out its anger, angst and frustration. It is now or never situation,” it demanded.
It said the RTO check-posts must be removed as they are illegal and added that the RTO powers to check documents must be pruned as everything is online now.
It added that oil marketing companies have been increasing prices of petrol and diesel and the central government has increased excise duty twice on the fuel and most state governments have hiked cess or VAT.
“This is in spite of the fact that the international crude oil is plummeting and there is no major fluctuation in rupee-dollar exchange rates. Making good of the loss incurred by OMCs due to weak demand during lockdowns is being mopped up from the people of the country,” it said.
Besides, the AIMTC said agriculture and commercial vehicles account for about 60 per cent of diesel consumption and both are highly marginalised segments.
“About 70 per cent of the retail price of fuel constitutes the central and state taxes, which in turn is about 275 per cent and 255 per cent on petrol and diesel, respectively over the base price, which hardly costs Rs 20 per litre,” it said and demanded rollback of the hike.
“The transporters freight is under severe pressure between high operating costs and demand-supply forces. The road transport fraternity of India demand rollback of the diesel price hike as this is making their operations unviable,” AIMTC said.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had on Tuesday (June 16) demanded a rollback of hike in fuel prices, saying the government’s decision to increase the prices of petrol and diesel during the coronavirus crisis is “wholly insensitive” and “ill-advised”.
“I am deeply distressed that in these exceedingly difficult times since the beginning of March, the government has taken the wholly insensitive decision to increase petrol and diesel prices on no less than ten separate occasions,” Gandhi said in her letter.
(With inputs from agencies.)