Transporter associations and members of the Agricultural Market Committee said the Centre’s decision to exempt freight trucks from road tolls made little difference as drivers and helpers began to give up. vehicles stranded in anticipation of a prolonged blockage.
With trucks unable to reach their destinations, wholesale markets have been hit by a shortage of agricultural products. “The drivers have started to abandon the trucks and walk home, even though these places are 200-300 km from where they are. We call on the Center to urgently call on states, especially collectors, to provide food and water to our stranded drivers, ”said Bal Malkit Singh, president of the All India Motor Transport Congress.
“We are also on lockdown, otherwise we would make arrangements for our drivers.” The All India Transport Welfare Association estimates that around 30 lakh trucks are stranded on the highways. In the FMCG sector, Britannia CEO Varun Berry has flagged the risk of the packaged food industry going out of stock within a week to 10 days if the supply chain is not immediately normalized. .
“The food industry supply chain is disaggregated and dependent on the interstate movement of goods. Due to the nature of the materials, stocks across the chain are low. If even one link in the supply chain is broken, the country could run out of stocks of packaged food in the next 710 days, ”he said.
Many staples have already disappeared from the shelves of supermarkets and local Kirana stores. The movement of raw materials has also been curtailed, forcing companies like Britannia, Parle and Unibic to cut production. Britannia CEO Varun Berry’s remarks were one of the strongest from a FMCG company. Parle had expressed concerns and Metro Cash & Carry India said it was unable to open its wholesale stores due to police threatening its employees.
Cookie maker Unibic, whose only factory on the outskirts of Bangalore has been closed since Sunday, is facing problems transporting raw materials such as palm oil, flavorings and cashews for its cookies. In Assam and in other states, many migrant vegetable sellers have returned home because it is not profitable to set up shop when there is a severe shortage of produce and no capital to buy what is available. Prem Chandra Shah, a wholesaler in Guwahati, returned to Bihar Thursday.
“First there was disruption because of the anti-CAA / NRC protests and now because of coronavirus. Too many losses in a short period of time, ”he said. VR Soundarajan, president of the Koyambedu Wholesale Traders’ Association in Chennai, told TOI that around 350 trucks arrive from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala in a normal day. “Today, only 150 trucks came; everywhere we hear stories of vehicles being stopped at state entry points. About Rs 1.2 crore of flowers Karnataka were dumped today on the Bengaluru-Chennai highway With vegetables, we can’t even quantify the loss, ”he said. The Center is setting up a control room and coordinating with states for vehicle entry, sources said.
A task force has been set up to work with state governments on faster issuance of passes within city limits and rapid entry of vehicles across interstate borders. For electronic communications players like Amazon, Flipkart, BigBasket, Grofers, Swiggy, and Zomato, getting curfew passes to resume operations is no longer the only challenge. While police authorities at subways like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore have assured them of curfew passes, these companies are now facing problems taking new orders and filling the existing backlog. (Contributions by Rachel Chitra, Digbijay Mishra, Madhav Chanchani, Avik Das in Bengaluru & Pankhuri Yadav & Paras Singh in Delhi)