Truckers’ strike: No shortages yet in Delhi, but prolonged stir may hurt | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times

Truckers’ strike: No shortages yet in Delhi, but prolonged stir may hurt

Jan 03, 2024 05:40 AM IST

In a similar vein, petrol dealers in Capital also said that supply thus far has been normal in the city

Several wholesale vegetable and fruit vendors at Delhi’s Azadpur mandi said supplies on Tuesday were normal but could be disrupted on Wednesday as vehicles carrying vegetables from Maharashtra, Kolkata and Karnataka have been stopped at various locations due to the strike called by truck drivers.

Trucks parked inside the Azadpur mandi in Delhi on Tuesday. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)
Trucks parked inside the Azadpur mandi in Delhi on Tuesday. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

In a similar vein, petrol dealers in Capital also said that supply thus far has been normal in the city. “Unlike other parts of the country, the situation of fuels supply in Delhi was normal. There are around 400 petrol pumps associated with us all of which have been supplied petrol and diesel as per the normal routine today. We are not foreseeing any crisis in terms of fuel supply in Delhi at this stage,” said Nishit Goyal, who represents of Delhi Petrol Dealers Association.

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The manager (who did not want to be named) of a petrol pump near the Azadpur mandi said, “The fuel prices in Delhi are stable as of yet. However, if the strike continues, prices might be impacted slightly.”

Truck drivers in several parts of the country have called a strike against the new criminal code, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), which increases the punishment for hit-and-run cases to imprisonment of up to 10 years with a fine of up to 7 lakh. The erstwhile Indian Penal Code had no specific fine and the maximum punishment was for two years.

Azadpur is the largest of the eight fruit and vegetables wholesale market supplying to Delhi. Traders and retail vendors who procure from the market told HT that the impact would first be felt on commodities coming from faraway states where the strike is more widespread.

Onion, a kitchen staple, is among the vegetables that felt a mild effect of the strike on its prices, but this could change if the agitation draws on. “Onion wholesale prices were impacted by only 3, making the maximum wholesale price for Tuesday 28. This might increase tomorrow,” said Rajinder Sharma, the president of the potato and onion traders’ association, who added that about 25 trucks of onions arrived from Maharashtra on Tuesday instead of the usual 40.

Potato, another commonly used vegetable, too was affected. “The potatoes come from Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Today, we purchased 50kg potato at 450, a hundred rupees higher than what it was yesterday. After this, the middleman takes a 7% commission so the wholesale prices will increase if this situation continues,” said Dinesh Kumar, a potato vendor.

The most intense of the protests have been reported in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

Traders said some other produce may have a heavier impact. Anil Malhotra, a member of Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), Azadpur, said that about 50 trucks (each 18 tonne) of pomegranate and guava arrive from Maharashtra daily, while 12 trucks of okra and bitter gourd come from Gujarat. “More than 20 trucks of watermelon come from Karnataka, while Kolkata sends about four trucks of bitter gourd and okra.”

He added that transporters across the country have asked their truck drivers to stop service from January 3 in support of the protest. “If the protest continues for two or three days, the prices in Delhi markets will naturally face a hike,” he said.

Nirenjan Chouhan, a wholesale vendor, said most perishable items are sold out within 24 to 48 hours and a disruption in supply for more than two days would affect the quality of those products — subsequently affecting the prices.

For fruit vendors, the supply of imported fruits has completely stopped over the last two days. “We have not been receiving imported fruits for the past two days as the supply enters India through Mumbai. I sell imported fruits like kiwi, dragon fruit, and red grapes, coming from South Africa, Australia and Egypt,” said Shankar Misra, a fruit vendor who procures fruit from Azadpur.

Traders also said they fear that farmers would soon start selling at local markets. “Our trucks were stuck at Agra. A portion of the lemons and ginger from Maharashtra went bad so now the local farmers there are saying that they will not send any produce till the situation is under control,” said Yogesh Arora, a wholesaler dealing in lemons and ginger.

Petrol pumps also reported fewer trucks coming in during the day. “Normally, we see 10-12 trucks every day... today, we have barely seen 3-4 trucks,” said a petrol pump manager requesting anonymity.

In Ghaziabad, people said there was no scarcity of fuel. “There are about 62 petrol pumps in Ghaziabad. At present there is no scarcity at the stations for the next two days. But if the protests continue, supply may get hampered,” said Jaivir Singh, president of Zila petroleum dealers’ association, Ghaziabad.

The Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation said some of its buses were halted due to the strike and that they had asked associations of bus staff, vehicle owners and others to persuade protesting drivers to return to work. “At present, we have about 60% of our buses (about 850) in the region who have returned and in operation since Monday. More buses will start operation gradually,” said Kesri Nandan Chaudhary, regional officer of UPSRTC.

Many transporters in Noida said that their vehicles were stranded in Jaipur, Agra, Bareilly, and other districts as drivers refused to drive. “Transporters from Gautam Budh Nagar have joined the meeting in Delhi on Tuesday and the decision will be made after the meeting,” said Ved Pal, president, Gautam Budh Nagar transport association.

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