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Truckers demand relief as losses mount to Rs 42,000 cr due to lockdowns

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NEW DELHI : Around 65 per cent of the total truck fleet in the country out of the road owing to lockdown and lockdown-like conditions in most of the states.

With around 65 per cent of the total truck fleet in the country out of the road owing to lockdown and lockdown-like conditions in most of the states, the truck industry losses have mounted to around Rs 42,000 crore from the start of the fiscal till mid of this month, All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) has said.

The transport sector, which is the lifeline of the nation and essential services provider to the people of the country, bears the first impact of the lockdowns and the curfews, it said.

The industry has sought relief from the government by way of EMI moratorium, soft loans provision without collateral, tax waiver, extension of validity of insurance, among others, AIMTC Core Committee Chairman Bal Malkit Singh said.

The AIMTC has also warned of the industry going completely out of business and large-scale unemployment if the relief measures are not provided to it.

Almost 80 per cent of the country is under lockdown. As a result of this, about 65 per cent of the total around 95 lakh trucks are standing idle as there is no demand and only 40 lakh trucks are on the roads, Singh said.

He said that the per day industry’s losses have gone up to Rs 1,600 crore in May from Rs 400 crore in the beginning of April as more states announced lockdown and lockdown-like restriction in the subsequent period amid the massive spike in Covid-19 infection cases in the country.

“In the first 15 days of April, the industry was facing Rs 400 crore per day, which rose to Rs 800 crore per day by April 30. They have now doubled to Rs 1,600 crore per day till May 15. So, as of May 15, the industry’s cumulative losses were a whopping Rs 42,000 crore, said Singh.

He said that the rising diesel prices, besides the impact of the lockdown was adding to the woes of the industry.

Already bewildered and chastised by excessive taxation and forced lockdowns, the breath of the transport sector is being further snatched by rising diesel prices, said Singh.

Petrol price on Sunday was increased by 24 paise per litre and diesel by 27 paise, pushing rates across the country to record highs and that of petrol in Mumbai to near Rs 99 a litre. The increase led to rates in Delhi climbing to Rs 92.58 per litre and diesel to Rs 83.22, according to a price notification of state-owned fuel retailers.

Rates had already crossed Rs 100-mark in several cities in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and with the latest increase, price in Mumbai too was inching towards that level.

A litre of petrol in Mumbai now comes for Rs 98.88 and diesel is priced at Rs 90.40 per litre.

This is the ninth increase in prices since May 4 when the state-owned oil firms ended an 18-hiatus in rate revision they observed during assembly elections in states like West Bengal.

“(But) There is no tangible support coming from the government in terms of any relief and the situation in the transport sector is getting critical with every passing day.

The way out is the relief package that we have asked for otherwise the industry will collapse, leading to large scale unemployment as well as disruption in the crucial supply chain,” Singh said.

There is acute fear among the drivers due to the current COVID-19 crisis and a reverse migration is taking place in the drivers community along with the labour and transportation staff, Singh added.

Source : Business Standard

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