Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022

Farmers’ Protest Deals Body Blow To Himachal Industry, Trade And Supplies

Himachal stares at scarcity of essential items if stalemate over farmers’ protests continues

Representational image. PTI

Himachal Pradesh farmers may not be active in the ongoing dharna at Singhu borders but the impasse between the protesting farmers and the central government has severely affected the trade, industry and consumers in the northern hill state, completely dependent on its supplies from Delhi.

Apart from the businessmen and traders in major towns of Himachal Pradesh, the whole industrial belt of Baddi-Brotiwala –Nalagarh (BBN) and state government-owned Civil Supplies Corporation have suffered huge blows in smooth movement of the goods and transport services.

Managing director of HP State Civil Supplies Corporation Manasi Sahay Thakur has written to the state government about the disruption of the movement of the consumer-related goods headed for districts for distribution under the PDS system, apart from problems in the delivery of the controlled and non-controlled consumer items for the people.

“Our vendors supplying his hundreds of tonnes of essential items like pulses, salt, sugar, mustard oil, refined oil have represented their inability to despatch the goods. The movement of the trucks, which is usually through Delhi from different states including MP, Gujarat and Maharashtra remain blocked,” Thakur told Outlook.

Even during the Covid-19 lockdown, the conditions were extremely tough to maintain the supply chain of the basic essential commodities. Yet, she recalled having managed to keep things going as some supplies were mobilised during the night.

“The situation created by the farmers’ stir has turned out to be terribly difficult.  Whom to talk and make our point about the importance of these consumer goods? This is really a worry as we wish things get resolved soon,” Thakur said.

The conditions are no better in the industrial front as Sanjay Khurana, president, Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh (BBN) Industrial Association, claimed that finished goods worth several hundred crores of rupees have piled up in the industrial area. These include medicines, pharmaceutical items, textiles and automobiles, electronics, food and breweries, home appliances and so on.

The supply of the raw material to the BBN is the worst affected from different parts of the country and ports.

“First things, the truck operators are reluctant to transport the goods fearing that the loaded vehicles will get stuck on the borders. They are asking for exorbitant rates because of uncertainties on the highways. The situation has become very difficult,” he said.

For the past several weeks, the farmers’ stir has caused the biggest blow to the industrial sector. First, it was Covid-19 lockdown and then rail roko movement. The industry has been at the receiving end.

The trade supplies have also faced a complete disruption. Many traders who used to order goods and consumer items from different wholesale markets of Delhi have stopped placing the orders. Their stocks and storage have already got sold out and fresh supplies are not reaching. This could create a crisis in the major towns and rural areas of the state ahead of the tough winter.

Harjit Singh, one of the leading transporters of Shimla, admitted that the businessmen and traders have not ordered new bulk purposes and many his vehicles (trucks) are grounded. The traders have apprehensions of goods getting blocked even if they order at different Delhi markets, Azadpur being one of these.

With no early hope for the end of the farmers’ protest, many areas, including those experiencing snow, are bound to experience a shortage of the goods, supplies and basic consumer items.