Bus services and movement of goods between Kerala and Tamil Nadu were affected on Wednesday by the dawn-to-dusk strike called by major trade unions and public carriage operators in Kerala to protest against spiralling petrol and diesel prices.
Inter-State bus services from either side of the border at Coimbatore, Tirunelveli, Theni and Kanniyakumari came to a halt. Very few vehicles with vegetables could reach the offloading points in Kerala before 6 a.m.
Nearly 1,000 tonnes of vegetables are sent from Coimbatore to Kerala every day. There was no offtake of vegetables from Tuesday.
But, it was expected to resume on Wednesday evening, said M. Rajendran, president of Thyagi Kumaran Market Vegetable Merchants’ Association in Coimbatore.
Thousands of commuters to Coimbatore, including students and people working in various establishments, took every alternative mode of transport available to get across the border.
Kaladharan, a marketing staff with a corrugated box manufacturing unit in Coimbatore, shared a motorcycle journey with one of this friends from Palakkad to reach his office on time.
Fifty buses of the KSRTC, operated daily from State Express Transport Corporation (SETC) stand at Gandhipuram to various places in Kerala, stayed off roads, KSRTC Station Officer K.P. Ravindran said. So were the 11 services operated by the SETC.
Twenty-three TNSTC, 33 KSRTC and five private buses to Kerala from the Ukkadam bus stand in Coimbatore were not operated, said TNSTC sources.
In Tirunelveli, the TNSTC and SETC did not operate the nine buses to destinations in Kerala, including Alappuzha, Thrissur, Guruvayoor and Ernakulam.
Trucks that entered Kerala before dawn with fish from Thoothukudi and vegetables from Tirunelveli districts could reach their destinations.
Vans with vegetables and flowers from Kamarajar Vegetable Market in Kaavalkinaru left on Tuesday night for the markets in Kerala.
All the 40 buses being operated from Kanniyakumari district to Kerala were stopped at Kaliyakkavilai on the Kanniyakumari-Kerala border.
Passengers had to alight at Kaliyakkavilai and take trains from the nearby Parasala railway station.
In Theni, buses were operated up to the State border at Kumuli, Bodi Mettu and Cumbum Mettu. The KSRTC suspended all its services to Theni and Madurai districts.
Traders from Idukki and Munnar could not come to the markets at Cumbum and Bodi to make their purchases.
However, vehicles transporting vegetables, milk and other essential commodities entered Kerala before the strike began.
So did thousands of workers from Theni who worked in cardamom estates in Kerala.
Traders at wholesale vegetable market at Oddanchatram had advised farmers not to bring vegetables to the market owing to the strike. Normally, 70% of the arrivals at the Oddanchatram market was procured by traders from Kerala.
(With inputs from R. Arivanantham in Coimbatore, P. Sudhakar in Tirunelveli and K. Raju in Dindigul)