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JNPT strike called off on minister's intervention

October 06, 2005 13:14 IST

The 12 striking transporters' associations of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Nhava Sheva, have called off their strike temporarily following assurances from the Union shipping minister TR Baalu.

He was in the city today to attend an international maritime conference, met the 12 striking associations and assured them that the issue of toll tax on NH 4B would be resolved in a month's time.

Speaking to the Business Standard, he said, "I am here to settle the issue. In 10 days, I will be convening a meeting in Delhi of all the concerned parties involved in the road cess matter. I hope that the matter will be resolved amicably in a month's time. I have already met them today and requested them to withdraw the strike."

The transporters, however, are adamant on their refusal to pay toll tax on NH 4B. Sanjay Potdar, secretary of the Nhava Sheva Container Operators' Welfare Association, told Business Standard, "We have withdrawn the strike on the minister's request. However, if the matter is not resolved in a month's time, we will go back to striking work."

The container and freight operators struck work yesterday, refusing to pay toll tax on the NH 4 B. Meanwhile, the Maritime and Shipping Agents Association is reported to have sent a letter to the JN Port authorities that it will reimburse the port for the deficit it would face with the withdrawal of the toll tax and all other related costs.

Confirming this, the JNPT chairman Ravi Budhiraja said, "MANSAA has agreed to reimburse the cess and other expenses to us. They have a sent a letter to this effect. The minister has given an assurance that the issue will be resolved in a month's time and we have conveyed this assurance to the transporters."

Potdar said that MANSAA was willing to pay the port authorities a service charge for handling containers on a per container basis, which would cover the Rs 41 crore (Rs 410 million) that PBA Infrastructure (the toll collection agency) would have collected from the transporters.

P R Sanjai & Gayatri Ramanathan in Mumbai