Most affected are vegetables, eggs, poultry; construction sector too feels the pinch
With the nation-wide strike of truck operators entering the third day on Friday, vegetable growers in Udhagamandalam, merchants in Coimbatore and egg suppliers of Namakkal are trying hard to ensure safe transport of perishable goods to various destinations, including Kerala and Karnataka.
Railway sources said parcel bookings have seen a rise in the last two days, especially in trains bound for Kerala. Transport Department has already asked its bus fleet to accept loads. Private bus operators too are extending a helping hand.
Autorickshaws and other three-wheeler cargo vehicles are being used to cover short distances.
In Salem, vegetable growers are trying their best to reach the produce to the nearest Uzhavar Sandhai, mainly in Transport Corporation buses. The Mettuppalayam Vegetable Market in Coimbatore, which caters to central and northern districts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, continued to remain affected.
Usually, 100 to 140 lorry loads of vegetables are transported from here to Kerala. Traders say it has come down by 50 per cent.
State Lorry Owners Federation president P. Sengodan, terming the lorry strike in Tamil Nadu peaceful and total, said a request of poultry owners to transport eggs was yet to be discussed. “We have exempted lorries that transport essential items such as milk from the strike,” Mr. Sengodan said.
With many of the farmers in the Nilgiris postponing harvest of vegetables to ward off losses because of rotting, prices of tomato, onion and banana have started climbing. Already there has been a rise of Re. 1 to Rs. 3 for vegetables that arrive from hilly areas.
If no alternative arrangement is made to transport poultry from the Namakkal region, prices of chicken and eggs are likely to shoot up by Sunday, when the demand is usually high. Efforts are on to transport chicken from the Palldam region to parts of Coimbatore, officials said.
The Salem district administration is taking measures to transport all essential commodities that need to be distributed through fair price shops. Lorries transporting them will be provided security. No shortage has been reported from any shop so far, said a senior official at the District Supply Office in Salem.
Thousands of trucks are remaining idle at the lorry pet at Ukkadam in Coimbatore. Some of the vehicle owners have taken the opportunity to do the necessary maintenance works.
The construction industry is pulling on with the available stock of cement, sand and bricks. The stocks may get depleted by Saturday, officials said.
In view of the strike, railways have deferred its earlier decision to levy supplementary freight charges on the movement of coal, coke, ore, minerals and petroleum products till further announcement, a press release from Salem Railway Division has said.
R. Ilangovan in Salem,
D. Radhakrishnan in Udhagamandalam and
V.S. Palaniappan in Coimbatore