Mumbai /New Delhi: Truckers stayed off the road for the second day on Tuesday, demanding lower diesel prices and permit fee, squeezing supplies of essential commodities that gave way to panic buying across markets.
Incoming traffic in the national capital’s Azadpur mandi, Asia’s largest wholesale vegetables market, was a notch lower than usual -- an indication that only vehicles that were already loaded are coming in, traders said.
The government has threatened to invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act if the strike is not called off soon and also cancel permits granted to truckers.
The strike has pushed up prices of some commodities and threatens to choke supplies of fruits and vegetables.
“Only 90-95 trucks came in today against the usual 100-120 and the supplies were sold with speed,” Azadpur Onion and Potato Merchants’ Association president Trilokchand Sharma said, adding there were signs of panic buying.
Think-tank NCAER’s senior fellow Rajesh Shukla said inflation could shoot up by 50 basis points if the strike continues for three-four days.
“We will continue the strike till there is a favourable response from the government. LPG and oil transporters have also joined the strike,” Bombay Goods Transport Association general secretary Girish Agrawal said.
“We are willing to surrender our licences,” he retorted to the government’s threat of cancelling permits.
All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), the umbrella body with over 4,000 affiliated unions, called the strike to demand lower diesel prices and permit fee and exemption from service tax among other things.
The Finance Ministry on Monday exempted eight services provided by sub-contractors to transporters from payment of service tax.