Chandigarh: The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Transport Wing will hold a ‘dharna’ in front of chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s residence – New Moti Bagh palace at Patiala on July 12 to highlight the plight of the transport sector and demand transporters be exempted from road tax for one year besides calling for a fifty per cent reduction of State VAT on petroleum products.
Addressing a press conference on this issue here, senior SAD leader Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra said representatives of this sector including rickshaw owners, truck, taxi, school bus and auto rickshaw owners from each stand in the State would hold a symbolic two hour dharna in front of the chief minister’s residence at Patiala on July 12. He said in case the government did not take corrective action, the Transport Wing would hold a State wide protest rally in August to press for its demands. He also announced that the Transport wing would support the protest call given by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) against rise in fuel prices tomorrow.
Giving further details, Prof Chandumajra said trucks, school buses, taxis and auto rickshaws should be exempt from payment of road tax for one year because their owners were unable to ply their trade due to Covid restrictions for more than one year. He said besides this there was an urgent need to reduce VAT on petrol and diesel as it had made the transport sector unprofitable besides increasing inflation for the common man.
Stating that the Punjab government was profiting from the misery of the people and was refusing to reduce VAT which was at an all time high, Prof Chandumajra said State VAT should be reduced by fifty per cent immediately on petroleum products.
Prof Chandumajra also announced that once the SAD formed a government in the State it would restore Truck Unions which had been abolished by the Congress government. He said the step had proved to be a retrograde one as a new syndicate had emerged which had monopolized the trucking trade resulting in losses to both owners as well as traders. “After restoring Truck Unions we will form three member Committees including the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM), a truck operator and a trade representative so that genuine rates can be fixed and all grievances resolved amicably”. He also announced that only Truck operators would be allowed to head Truck Unions.
In another reformatory step, Prof Chandumajra said the next SAD government would provide stickers to truckers after payment of yearly tax in one go to ensure they were not stopped by anyone on the road. “This step is aimed at removing corruption and harassment of truckers”. He said other steps which would be enforced would include a stop to overloading and hundred per cent payment on all tenders taken by truckers. He said currently an aide of minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot was not paying Rs 2 crore due to truckers on a tender taken by them, saying such corrupt practices would end once the SAD formed a government in the State.
SAD Transport Wing President Paramjit Singh Fazilka alongwith Secretary general Gurbinder Singh(Binder manila) said during the last one and a half years as many as 40, 000 trucks and 55, 000 taxis had been scrapped. He said thousands of truck and taxi drivers were similarly out of jobs and were finding it difficult to make ends meet. He demanded all such persons, including school bus conductors, be provided six months ration by the State to help them in this hour of crisis.