A day after the state government increased the value-added tax( VAT) on diesel, it asked the Himachal Consultancy Organisation (HIMCON) to work out new freight rates for truck unions to end the impasse between them and the Adani Group.
State’s truckers have been continuously protesting since the closure of two Adani-owned cement plants in Darlaghat and Barmana 26 days ago.
The government had constituted a subcommittee to formulate fresh freight rates for the truck unions and the Adani Group. HIMCON was supposed to submit its blueprint on the fresh freight rates on Monday, but will now revise it taking into account the new price of diesel. “HIMCON will submit a report after studying the new rate,” Rakesh Prajapati, director, industries, said on Monday.
The Himachal Pradesh government led by chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu had on Sunday increased the VAT on diesel by ₹3. After the revision, the VAT on diesel which was ₹4.4/litre has gone up to ₹ 7.4/litre in Himachal Pradesh, taking the diesel price from ₹ 83/litre to ₹ 86/litre. The revised rate came into effect from Saturday midnight.
The subcommittee constituted by the state government to end the deadlock comprised directors of industries, transport and food and civil supplies.
It had roped in HIMCON to work out the ferrying cost in accordance with different types of trucks being used for the transportation of cement.
At present, the transportation rate per quintal for cement is ₹10.58 per kilometre in hilly areas and ₹5.38 in the plains.
The truck unions and company officials have held several rounds of the meeting after the impasse, but both have voiced “substantive” differences.
The company had initially offered ₹6 for the transportation of cement in the hills. The state government wants the company to bring down the cost of cement in Himachal. The transportation cost of cement is more in Barmana in Bilaspur at ₹ 11. 20 paisa.
Meanwhile, the truck unions have begun to mobilise the affected villagers for holding a mahapanchayt to draw its future strategy.
The operators have already indicated that their plans are afoot to mobilise 30,000 people from around 56 panchayats of Arki.
In the wake of the closure of Ambuja plant, a massive movement in Darlaghat of Solan is on the cards.
“So far, the truckers’ protest outside the cement plant has had a wide impact not only on dhaba owners’ and mechanics, but also the local population. We hope that government will find a midway to end the impasse,” said Jai Dev Kaundal, president of Solan District Truck Operators’ Cooperative.
Although there have been several agitations against the cement plant in the past as well, no mahapanchayat has ever been held in the area.
The next decision will be made only with the consent of the people in the mahapanchayat, said the truckers.
Ramkishan Sharma, former head of Land Loser Cooperative Society, said mahapanchayat will be held in Darlaghat.
“In this, all those associated with Ambuja plant, dhaba operators, traders, spare parts shopkeepers, mechanics, youths, and mahila mandals, truck operators of Barmana and people living within zila parishad wards of Dumehar, Darlaghat, Kunihar and Dhundan will be called,” he said.