Ignatius Pereira

Unloading and transportation likely to be affected

May Day, hartal come in the way

Collector says police protection will be provided

KOLLAM: Three goods trains with Andhra rice are expected to reach the State on Thursday.

Being May Day there will be no unloading on Thursday. The next day, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has called for a nation-wide hartal. Hence unloading of rice could lead to law and order problems.

Clearing and forwarding agents at the railway goods shed here expect the BJP to exempt rice transportation from the hartal for two reasons. One, because of the grim rice stock position in the State; and the other, keeping the goods trains wait till Saturday for unloading will invite a demurrage charge of Rs.3 lakh. If that happens, the dealers in Andhra Pradesh have to pay it. And that will complicate the situation.

Agents’ stand

The agents say that if the hartal affects unloading and transportation, they will be forced to unload rice from the goods shed under police protection.

District Collector A. Shajahan told The Hindu that if the agents approach the district authorities for police protection it will be provided. Rice being an essential commodity like milk, he expects the BJP to exempt its unloading and transportation from the hartal.

Two goods trains with 40 wagon loads of Andhra rice each will be arriving here on May 1 and another with an equal load in Ernakulam the same day.

The trains which left Vijayawada remained stationed at Jolarpet in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday and will continue the journey to Kerala on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, wholesale rice dealers here say that rice dealers in Andhra Pradesh have informed them that they are ready to sell Jaya grade rice to Kerala at the rate of Rs.15 a kg if the Andhra Pradesh government is prepared to withdraw the newly imposed permit system for export of rice to other States. At present they are selling rice to Kerala at Rs.20 a kg.

M.H. Mohamedali, a wholesale rice dealer here, says that talks between the two State governments could solve the issue. But Andhra rice dealers say that the initiative should come from the Kerala government.