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Truck drivers across Maharashtra to go on strike from tomorrow against escort fee

Truck drivers across Maharashtra will go on an indefinite strike from tomorrow, following failure of talks between the state government and transporters' bodies over abolition of escorts fee, All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) said today.

"It has been our long pending demand from the state government to abolish escort fees. Escort fees was directly linked with octroi. If octroi has been abolished by the government, it is illogical to have escort fees. Since the authorities have failed to pay heed to our demands, we have decided to go on a strike starting tomorrow," AIMTC president Bal Malkit Singh told PTI.

Nearly 20 lakh trucks are expected to join the strike, he said. An escort is a person who accompanies a truck on behalf of a local municipal authority to ensure that the goods entering an area are not off-loaded within that municipal limit without paying the requisite fees. Every operator has to spend an amount as escort fees, though there is no octroi in the state, with the exception of Mumbai.

"We met state Transport Minister Madhukarrao Chavan and Principle Secretary Transport S Sharma today, but they have asked us for more time before escort fees can be abolished. But, we cannot give them anymore time because this is an unnecessary burden on us," Singh said. The motor transporters' bodies had organised a demonstration at Azad Maidan on July 2 to demand abolition of escort fees.

Singh claimed that talks were held with Maharashtra Chief Secretary J S Saharia on July 9 and he had agreed to consider the transporters' bodies demand of abolishing the fees, but, he too asked for more time before a stand could be taken by the government.

"Though essential items have been exempted under this (strike) call, we hope that prudence will prevail on the government to act in time and it will abolish the escort fees immediately," Singh said.

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