Goods worth nearly Rs.1 bn stranded in Tamil Nadu

January 10th, 2009 - 6:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Jan 10 (IANS) Tea, vegetables and perishables worth nearly Rs.100 crore (Rs.1 billion) are stranded in various districts in Tamil Nadu on account of the truckers’ strike, which continued Saturday for the sixth straight day.“Tea worth over Rs.15 crore (Rs.150 million) is stranded in Ooty (in the Nilgiris district) due to the strike,” a United Planters’ Association of Southern India (UPASI) spokesperson said.

According to traders, vegetables and other perishable items worth over Rs.80 crore (Rs.800 million) are piled up in Salem, Dharmapuri, Dindigul, Madurai and Cuddalore districts in the state.

Making the situation worse, tankers carrying milk and water will also go off the roads from Saturday midnight, said S. Sreedhar, a member of the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), the organisation that called a nationwide transport strike that has seen over six million trucks go off the roads since Monday.

The strikers are demanding that diesel price be reduced by Rs.10 a litre, and that of tyres by 35 percent, apart from uniform value-added tax across the states.

Tamil Nadu is among a few states that have brought the transport strike under the ambit of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), and warned striking truckers that their permits would be revoked if they did not call off the agitation.

Five AIMTC leaders were arrested under ESMA in New Delhi Friday on charges of disrupting the free flow of goods, and were produced in court Saturday.

Tamil Nadu will be celebrating the annual harvest festival - Pongal - Jan 14 and disruption in transport of goods has put a question mark on the festivities.

A state government spokesman said efforts are underway to get food transported to the various wholesale outlets in the state.

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