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Transporters’ Stir
Day 7: Some good news

Truckers’ body calls off strike in Mumbai, more agitators to follow suit, claims govt
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 11
The truckers’ strike seems to be waning, as the government remains firm on its stand, unwilling to give in to the demands of the agitating transporters.

The first announcement of the strike being called off came from Maharashtra, where the truckers Mahasangh, which represents 230 transporters associations in the state, decided to end the stir after receiving an assurance from the Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.

“We have called off the strike with immediate effect and transporters within the state will start operating soon,” a senior functionary of the Mahasangh, Irfan Bhiwandiwala, told mediapersons in Mumbai today.

However, he clarified that other associations, which are not affiliated to the Mahasangh, would continue to remain on strike called by the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC). Incidentally, as part of the measures to break the strike, the government yesterday enlisted the support of the All India Confederation of Goods Vehicles Owners’ Associations (ACOGOA), which claims command over 40 lakh trucks across the country and is the rival union of the AIMTC.

Meanwhile, the Centre — which has called the meeting of transporter commissioners of all states here tomorrow — while drawing a parallel to the just ended oil sector strike, has again asked states to handle the truckers’ stir firmly by taking effective steps. Taking note of the situation arising out of the strike, cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar, who has been monitoring the situation closely, has asked the states to ensure free movement of essential commodities and prevent hoarding of goods by unscrupulous traders.

In his missive, he pointed out that the strike by Oil Sector Officers Association (OSOA) could only end due to the firm stand taken by central and state governments.

According to reports, Chandrasekhar has asked states to give wide publicity to steps taken by them to minimise the impact of the stir. He had also met secretaries of Ministry of Road and Surface Transport, Defence, Railways, I&B and Petroleum yesterday to review the situation. The union government has also enlisted the services of the railways to reduce the strike impact.

The government today claimed that local supplies have improved with truckers resuming services in many areas, while reiterating its threat to invoke ESMA to smoothen the supply of goods if the transporters did not return to work in the remaining parts of the country.

“The truckers in many parts of the country have started working... I am sure more and more transporters would return to work,” Transport Secretary Brahm Dutt told reporters here. Trucks have started plying in Mumbai, Pune, Vijaywada, Hasan and Jaipur...situation is improving in other parts, he added. Meanwhile, Haryana invoked ESMA, becoming the eighth state so far to implement the step to deal with the strike. Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Goa and Madhya Pradesh had invoked the law earlier in the week.

“There has been some impact on truckers because of the economic slowdown. The ultimate solution to their problems lies in stepping up trade, industrial activity for which the government has announced two stimulus packages,” Dutt said. He pointed out that ACOGOA has given assurance for extending complete support for supply of goods. He again appealed to striking transporters to settle the issue through dialogue.

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