Ludhiana: ‘Rail roko’ pushes industry off track with many forced to shut shop, shift to other states
As trouble deepens for the industry due to the ongoing ‘rail roko’ agitation by farmers which has interrupted supplies, the industrial associations on Tuesday said that many exporters were forced to shut down their units, while some are planning to shift business to other states.
With over four containers carrying goods and raw material worth crores stuck at ports or in transit due to no movement of goods trains in the state, the industry is facing an acute shortage of raw material and exporters fear cancellation of orders due to the delay being caused in delivery of goods. The cost of raw material available has also increased due to low supply.
The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) also organised a meeting of industrialists on Tuesday and urged the state government to intervene in the matter.
President CICU, Upkar Singh Ahuja and general secretary, Pankaj Sharma said that the rail services were not stopped even when terrorism was at its peak in the state. Industrialists are being forced to shut down units due to a shortage of raw material including steel. The industry was already reeling under losses due to the lockdown and the situation has worsened due to the farmers’ rail roko agitation, they said. Some industrialists do not have funds to pay salaries to their staff. Further, the shipping companies are planning to charge for containers stuck with them, they added.
“Importers and exporters are under a lot of stress. As the Inland Container Depots (ICD) in the state are closed, the industry is mulling transportation of goods meant for export to Gujarat and Mumbai by road, from where the shipments would be released, but this will increase the transportation cost. The auto parts manufacturers are worried as they will have to pay heavy penalties if the supply of parts to automakers gets delayed. The medium and large-scale industry is planning to shift units to other states due to frequent disturbances being witnessed in the state,” said Ahuja.
Industrialists rued that the state government has extended support to the protest for political mileage.
President of All Industries and Trade Forum, Badish Jindal said that the state government is indulging in politics rather than resolving the issue. “The industries in the state purchase around 3-lakh tonnes of steel every month which includes wire rods, H R Coil, C R Coils, TMT, billets and blooms, etc. But due to farmers’ agitation, the supply through the railway has stopped and they have to bring the steel through the road network, which increases the transportation cost of steel by Rs 2,000 per tonne,” he said.
States like Haryana and Rajasthan do not have such problems, although farmers there are also suffering. Those states have maintained law and order and movement of goods is going on, said Ahuja while adding that the industry is exploring legal options to resolve the issues being faced by them and a delegation will also meet chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh in the coming days.
President of United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association, DS Chawla said, “The large industry is planning to shift units to other states but small manufacturers have no choice and they are on the brink of closure.”