Shimla: A prolonged strike by truckers could cause shortages in supplies of food grains, petroleum fuels, milk and other essential items, said Ramesh Dhawala, food minister as the transporters strike entered the second day and a pinch across states supply chain was felt.
In the absence of any rail link, all supplies are entirely dependent upon surface transport and food minister Dhawala says that the strike is holding the entire state to ransom with no other means to disperse essential supplies.
Corroborating the ministers view, SK Sharma, incharge at the Parwanoo barrier which monitors interstate movement of goods said, “about 40 percent of interstate movement of goods has been affected since the truckers went on strike on Monday.”
Milk and bread supplies did reach Shimla and other cities in smaller vehicles and Geeta, a housewife only realised the impact of the strike when she went out to purchase the day’s vegetables. Prices had shot up overnight.
“At first I was not convinced by the vendors’ plea that vegetables were in short supply which has led to increase in prices,” said Geeta.
Other than for cooking purposes, in winters many use gas for warming homes and no shortages of gas was reported from any part of the state. Dhawala feared that if supplies were not resumed immediately the people would be left without any available gas supply in mid winter.
Kusum, a manager with a gas agency said, “for the time being we have adequate gas supplies to meet both domestic and commercial needs but if movement of transport vehicles does not resume soon, shortages will soon be felt.”
Ramesh Chaujjar, president Beopar Mandal said that businesses were suffering heavy losses as Himachal a state deficient in food grain production depended heavily on supplies from Delhi, Chandigarh or Ambala.
“Unless the transporters strike is not settled soon we are in deep trouble,” he said. A lot of stock which is on the move is stranded at various points and if the bottlenecks are not cleared, losses would be heavy, he added.
Dhwala expressed helplessness at tackling shortages should the trucks remain off the road for a longer period.
“There is no way we can meet needs of the people unless movement of goods is restored,” he said.