Kochi: The small-scale industrial units in the state are hit by the ongoing nationwide truckers' strike, which entered its fifth day today. Though the strike has not affected the movement of essential commodities in a big way, it has proved fatal for most of the industrial units.
According to Xavier Thomas Kondody, president of Kerala State Small Industries Association, around 5,000 small industrial units in the state are on the verge of closure. "If the strike prolongs, the majority of the small industrial units will be closed down in a day or two. The movement of various raw materials has already been disrupted and we are not able to deliver products to customers outside the state," he said, and added that the major market for the small industries was the North Indian states.
The strike has badly affected around 4,000 rubber-based small industries in the country as the backlog has been heaping up at the units. "Most of the units lack financial muscle to store huge inventories. Seventy-five per cent of the rubber load traffic is to outside the state which is at a standstill after August 20,' says N. Radhakrishnan, Cochin Rubber Merchants Association president. The big industrial units also are facing many troubles in getting the raw materials from various destinations in the country. The Apollo Tyres at Kalamassery, which requires chemicals for manufacturing tyres, is finding it difficult to add on the stock.
The fertiliser movement from FACT to Andhra Pradesh and caprolactam transportation to Pune and Gwalior have been disrupted for the past few days. FACT is trying for makeshift arrangements to transport its products through goods wagons to wherever possible.
However, sources in the spices industry feel that the strike may lead to a reduction in price for many spice varieties, especially black pepper and ginger. "More and more goods may come to the terminal market in the coming days as the illegal transportation has been largely hit by the strike. It will definitely lead to a reduction in prices,' says Kishore Shamji, president, IPSTA.
Meanwhile, the agitation had little impact on the movement of vegetables as truckers in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been keeping away from the strike. However, the inflow of many of the grocery items has come to a standstill though it had not led to inflation.
"The inflow of a number of grain varieties has been stopped from Saturday. The North Indian companies have ceased receiving orders even before the commencement of the strike," says AP Johny, president of the Grain Merchants Association. However, he added that there was nothing to worry about it as there was enough stock.
The strike call has been given by the All-India Transporters' Welfare Association and All-India Motor Transport Corporation to protest against the 10 per cent service tax on goods.