Rs.10-bn loss feared daily following truckers’ strike: Exporters (Lead)

January 6th, 2009 - 6:01 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 6 (IANS) The Indian economy could lose Rs.10 billion (Rs.1,000 crore) daily on account of the indefinite nationwide truckers’ strike, a premier organisation of exporters said here Tuesday.”Everyday, goods worth about Rs.1,000 crore are transported across India and this will get hit because of the strike,” said A. Sakthivel, president and chairman of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), the umbrella body of all exporters bodies.

Over six million trucks went off the roads across India since the early hours Monday, triggering fears that there would be a shortfall of essential commodities, leading to a price hike across the board.

Striking transporters’ demands include a Rs.10 reduction in diesel prices and rationalisation of tyre prices following the meltdown.

But the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), the apex body of transporters, has maintained that their strike would not disrupt supply of basic commodities.

“We have told truckers to ensure that supplies of vegetables, fruits and other essential goods are not affected,” AIMTC general secretary S. Venugopal told IANS.

However, traders at Delhi’s Azadpur Mandi, one of the biggest wholesale markets in Asia, said the strike has affected the movement of goods and services. “We have not been able to transport fruits and vegetables to northern states,” said Balbir Tyagi, a wholesale agent at Azadpur Mandi.

In Chandigarh, Jujhar Singh Badheri, director of the grain market committee, said only about 50-60 trucks carrying vegetables reached the market Monday, while none arrived since Tuesday morning.

“Due to the limited supply, there has been a shortage of vegetables and prices of many vegetables have already risen,” Badheri said, and added: “We will be out of stock in the next one or two days if the strike continues.”

Over 500 trucks loaded with vegetables and fruits arrive in Chandigarh everyday from the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

“The government is not ready to cooperate with truck drivers and they are trying to intimidate us. However, we are not going to withdraw our strike till all our demands are met. We are not demanding anything irrational, these all are our long pending demands,” AIMTC president Charan Singh Lohara told IANS Tuesday.

According to him, about 20 percent of the estimated six million trucks on Indian roads were deployed Monday, which declined Tuesday. All trucks would go off the roads Wednesday, Lohara asserted.

The government Monday threatened to invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) if needed against the strikers.

Terming the strike as “irrational and irresponsible”, transport secretary Brahm Dutt Monday had also threatened to cancel the permits of truckers.

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