Goods worth Rs.2.5 bn stranded in Tamil Nadu due to strike

January 11th, 2009 - 11:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Jan 11 (IANS) Tea, vegetables and perishables worth nearly Rs.2.5 billion (Rs.250 crore) were stranded in various parts of Tamil Nadu as the truckers’ strike continued Sunday for the seventh straight day.Tamil Nadu will celebrate the annual harvest festival of Pongal Jan 14 and for the first time Tamil New Year will start the same day. However, disruption in transport of goods has put a question mark on the festivities as essential items for the festival like turmeric, jaggery and sugarcane were not reaching in bulk to people.

“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.800 million (Rs.80 crore) were piled up in Salem, Dharmapuri, Dindigul, Madurai and Cuddalore districts in the state.

“Though Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) was invoked, action has not been taken against them at this point of time. The government is envisaging a dialogue with truckers,” Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways T.R. Baalu told reporters at Cuddalore.

“No action has been taken against them as yet,” Tamil Nadu Law Minister S. Durai Muragan told reporters at Vellore.

The All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) has called the nationwide strike that has seen over six million trucks go off the roads since Monday.

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

Tamil Nadu is among the 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.

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

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