The nationwide truckers’ strike has also hit the industrial trade in several north Indian states. The indefinite strike, which began today, was called by the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), the apex body of transporters, demanding cheaper diesel and tyre prices.
According to estimates, industry in Uttar Pradesh suffered a loss of about Rs 50 crore on the first day, while in Uttarakhand, industrial trade worth Rs 75-100 crore was affected.
In Uttar Pradesh, an estimated 40,000 trucks went off the roads. The loss is expected to rise exponentially as the strike advances to another day.
UP Truck Operators Federation general secretary Billu Tandon told Business Standard that although rubber prices had dropped 40-50 per cent, the prices of truck tyres continued to rule high in India, impacting margins.
“The Centre also banned the import of China-made tyres, which were available for less than Rs 15,000 per pair compared with Rs 25,000 per pair from Indian companies,” he lamented.
There are about 10,000 transport companies in UP and they had stopped fresh bookings since the last two days in preparation for the strike.
Although, the essential commodities have been exempt from this strike, other industries based on iron and steel and food processing are suffering greater loss due to pile up of inventories, prominent traders’ leader Tarun Khetrapal said.
“The total impact of the strike would be visible only from tomorrow since the traders keep some additional stock with them,” UP Udyog Vyapar Pratinidhi Mandal spokesperson Chandra Kumar Chhabra said.
On the other hand, Punjab is expected to witness a severe shortage of vegetables and other essential commodities as more than 150,000 trucks and commercial vehicles went off the roads from Sunday midnight joining the nationwide strike.
According to industry leaders, the ongoing strike is also going to dampen production and also hit the timely delivery of goods to the customers.
The transporters are mainly demanding that diesel prices be reduced by at least Rs 10 per litre, a uniform VAT of 4 per cent on the fuel, withdrawal of service tax on truck operators and rationalisation of tyre prices.
“Our talks with transport officials of the central government didn’t materialise. The government didn’t pay any concern to our demands, so we are forced to go on strike,” AIMTC President Charan Singh Lohara told Business Standard. He also added the association is not forcing any transporter to observe strike but the truckers and the association are willingly observing strike to press their demands.
In Uttarakhand, nearly 10,000 trucks stopped plying affecting the transportation of goods from industrial areas at Pantnagar, Haridwar, Kotdwar, Selaquie and Dehra Dun where top companies like Nestle, HUL, Britannia, Bajaj Auto have set shops.
Haridwar and Pantnagar, the two key industrial estates, bore the brunt of the strike as most of the goods remained stored in the factories. “We could not transport these goods due to strike,” said an official of the Britannia group.
Uttarakhand Truck Operators Federation President DS Mann said his association was actively supporting the strike and urged the central government to accept their demands.
Concerned over the strike, the Industries Association of Uttarakhand (IAU) has urged the government to take steps so that the strike should not affect the industrial output. “Due to lack of railway network, industries are mostly dependent on trucks. So, we appeal to the government to take steps so that the industrial output is not affected,” said Pankaj Gupta, president, IAU.
Official sources said the impact of the strike would be visible only after two to three days.