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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 15:39 GMT
Indian truck strike hits economy
Striking Indian truckers
Truckers want more time to replace old vehicles
A second day of strikes by trucking companies in the Indian state of Maharashtra against a tough pollution-control law has started to hit the economy.

The state law, which was introduced three years ago, requires trucks that are more than fifteen years old to be scrapped by the end of the month.

Striking Indian trucker
Fuel shortages are likely if the strike does not end
The strike has already pushed up commodity prices in India's financial hub of Bombay, home to more than 13 million people.

"We have to pay more for basic commodities such as vegetables and household goods, the ports are grinding to a halt and the railway yards are empty," Vijay Kalantri, president of All India Association of Industries, told the BBC's World Business Report.

The local economy is losing about 300m rupees (4.35m) a day in lost production, Mr Kalantri said.

The strike was called by an organisation which represents more than 200 transport associations with about 450,000 vehicles.

Industry impact

Fruit and vegetable prices have soared by up to 50% since the strike began, and cement prices in Bombay, one of the main construction markets, rose by about 5%.

The ports would be affected if the walkout is prolonged, authorities said.

Nageswar Rao, regional manager at the state-run Central Warehousing Corporation's office at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, told the Reuters news agency that shipping operations were going on, but he warned operations could be affect within three days.

"We are hardly getting about 10% of the normal containers from outside due to the strike," he said.

Saroj Tahiliani, secretary at the Mumbai Port Trust of Bombay, said the strike has hit the handling of only one vessel because they were using contract transporters who were not striking.

A spokesperson for oil retailer Bharat Petroleum Corporation said the strike could start to pinch consumers on Wednesday, because petrol pumps have storage capacity for only two to three days.

The company, which owns about 70 petrol stations in Bombay, said it would try to ensure supplies through its own tankers.

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Vijay Kalantri, All India Association of Industries
"The ports are grinding to a halt and the railway yards are empty."
See also:

06 Mar 02 | Business
India counts economic cost of riots
04 Jan 02 | Business
Chaos strikes India's banks
05 Dec 01 | Business
India puts growth ahead of deficit
04 Oct 01 | Business
Indian economy smarts under crisis
21 Dec 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: India
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