Adani Group blames truckers for deadlock in Himachal
The Adani Group had about a week ago decided to indefinitely suspend operations at these two cement plants due to losses caused by steep transportation costs
With no end to the deadlock at ACC cement plant at Barmana and Ambuja cement plant at Darlaghat, Adani Group, which owns the two facilities, on Tuesday blamed the transporters for the impasse.
The Adani Group had about a week ago decided to indefinitely suspend operations at these two cement plants due to losses caused by steep transportation costs. The group – which had acquired ACC plant in Bilaspur district and Ambuja plant in Solan in September – has blamed high freight rates for its decision.
However, many see it as a retaliatory move against the newly elected Congress government, which was looking to reduce cement rates in Himachal Pradesh.
The company had been negotiating with transport unions to bring down the costs. The Himachal Pradesh government has also slapped show-cause notices on the Adani Group for closing the plants without informing it. It had later approached UltraTech company to fulfil its requirement of 6,000 tonnes of cement.
“We are deeply aggrieved with the situation caused by the adamant stand of the truck unions in Himachal Pradesh. Our four-decade-old relationship with the people of Himachal Pradesh is not just about our manufacturing operations, but also about the welfare of the communities of Barmana and Darlaghat,” said Adani Group spokesperson Vikas.
He said that people of the region deserve better cement prices, but it was not possible without cooperation from transport unions. “Higher transport costs have resulted in exorbitantly higher cement prices to people of Himachal as compared to neighbouring states,” the spokesperson said.
“Barmana and Darlaghat plants have a long presence in Himachal and contributed significantly to the economic prosperity of local people as well as the state’s revenue,” he added.
“The two companies are among the largest employment providers (direct and indirect) in the state. However, these plants have gone unviable due to various inefficiencies in transportation. As a single entity now, we want to supply cement to the markets at prices that are competitive. Transporters shouldn’t be concerned about management’s right to switch our brand-specific materials. Since fuel is a national resource, this would help Himachal to become a greener state by saving fuel and also draw on synergies to serve customers efficiently,” Vikas said.
“Our companies should be free to hire trucks wherever they are needed in India to facilitate interstate and interregional transportation,” he said.
What is even more unfortunate, he claimed, is that local transport unions don’t allow other transporters to operate on competitive rates. This goes against the free market spirit, he added.
“Such matters can be resolved only by understanding the issues faced by all the stakeholders and not by blaming each other. We are making serious efforts to solve the problems being faced by the state. We are seeking cooperation from all stakeholders including transport unions to resolve these issues amicably,” the spokesperson said.
The Bilaspur administration, meanwhile, on Tuesday met the truckers and company officials. However, the meeting failed to reach any common understanding on the new rates for the transportation of cement. Truck operators in Solan will hold a meeting on Wednesday afternoon with the local administration to negotiate the rates being proposed by the company and the government.