Mumbai: A nationwide strike by tens of thousands of truckers entered its second day on Tuesday, pushing up prices of some commodities and threatening to choke supplies of fruit and vegetables.
The truckers, who are calling for cuts in taxes, tolls and diesel prices, were prepared to stay off the road until their demands were met, said Charan Singh Lohara, president of the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC). “We have not even received an invitation to further talks from the government,” said Lohara, whose union says it represents six million trucks across India.
Stranded: A vegetable vendor waits between parked trucks in Gurgaon. AIMTC’s strike could threaten agricultural supplies. Gurinder Osan / AP
There was about 10-20% of normal freight traffic in the country on Monday, he added.
“From today (Tuesday), it will be a complete strike,” Lohara said, adding farmers would also lend support to the call for cheaper diesel.
Cooking gas and oil transporters joined the strike on Tuesday.
Continuation of the strike can push inflation up by 50 basis points on account of shortage of perishable goods and panic buying by traders, according to think tank National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER). “If the strike continues for three-four days, there would be a rise of 50 basis points in inflation,” senior fellow at NCAER Rajesh Shukla said.
Inflation dipped to a 10-month low at 6.38% for the week ended 20 December, after touching a peak of about 13% in August.
Shukla said as the agricultural output, particularly vegetables and milk, is getting affected due to the strike, there could be a shortage of perishable goods in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training said the strike may collapse soon.
“The strike may fizzle out in the next few days since many truckers are not participating,” S.P. Singh, a senior fellow at the New Delhi-based road transport research organization, said on Tuesday. “Traffic on the highways was normal yesterday (Monday) night. It’s business as usual.”
(PTI and Bloomberg contributed to this story.)