Millions of India truckers in strike over hikes in tax, fuel price

NEW DELHI, July 2, 2008 (AFP) – An estimated four million truckers on Wednesday went on strike to press for uniform diesel prices and protest at an increase in taxes, the government and a union leader said. The action was called after talks with the government failed late Tuesday.

“We had talks with the government, but it was just an eyewash. We are hoping that a solution would be found soon,” Gurinder Pal Singh, of the All-India Motor Transport Congress, told AFP.

The truckers want the government to regulate the price of diesel, so they do not have to pay more for premium fuel, and to reduce toll tax.

The union said nearly four million trucks had joined the strike.

The transport ministry said the petroleum ministry had been asked to look into fuel availability and pricing. Other demands of the truckers were also being looked into, the ministry said in a statement.

The transport union said it was set for more talks Wednesday.

A traders’ body said it expected prices of food and essential items to rise sharply if the strike continued for more than two days.

“If the strike continues, prices of food grains, pulses, consumer durables, and raw materials for industry will go up