The Statewide strike by goods transporters since Saturday midnight was called off on Monday afternoon following assurances by the government that it would meet some of their demands. The goods transporters, including those moving petroleum products, had joined the ongoing sand transporters’ strike, which entered the 23rd day on Monday.
The announcement of the withdrawal of strike came from the general secretary of the South India Motor Transporters’ Association G.R. Shanmugappa after he, along with other office-bearers, held a meeting with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and four Cabinet Ministers.
“We have decided to allow the goods lorries to ply after the government promised to issue e-Sugam and transit pass and also remove the annual entry tax. The government has also agreed to look into the situation in neighbouring States on the issue of mandatory educational qualification of 8th standard for drivers. Some neighbouring States have kept the implementation in abeyance or postponed the implementation,” Mr. Shanmugappa told reporters after the meeting.
“While sand truckers will continue with their strike, we have decided to withdraw since the government agreed to most of our demands. The vehicles will come on roads immediately,” K.G. Ravindra, chairman of All India Taxi, Maxi Cab and Bus Owners’ Association. Despite the withdrawal of strike by goods transporters, supply of sand will continue to be affected across Karnataka as sand transporters have decided not to ply their vehicles unless the government issues permit for sand transportation, drop criminal charges and the hefty fine imposed on them.
Mr. Shanmugappa said they had reiterated that unless permit is given, they would not transport sand. “The government has agreed to make arrangements for sand availability within a week. Even then we need permits as without it there would be corruption and harassment,” he said.
Earlier, the Public Works Minister H.C. Mahadevappa and Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T.B. Jayachandra, during the meeting, clarified issues pertaining to sand transportation and explained that the sand policy has been drafted following directions by the Supreme Court. Mr. Mahadevappa said that sand extraction has to be done keeping in mind the environmental issues and that reckless extraction cannot be taken up only to satisfy the sand truckers. Whatever is available will be given to the truckers, he added. The Law Minister said that penalty and jail imprisonment is for those violating the sand extraction and collection under the sand policy norms.
Meanwhile, Mr. Jayachandra, who participated in the meeting with the truckers’ representatives, told reporters that the government had sought a week’s time to address the demand of sand lorry owners and drivers. The committees, headed by the Deputy Commissioner in each district, should identify the locations for extraction of sand after which the Public Works Department (PWD) will auction the plots. This process needs at least a week’s time, the Minister added.
Home Minister K.J. George was also present.