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Procurement of rabi harvest may get disturbed, warns AIMTC if NHAI doesn’t waive toll during lockdown

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Transporters said that toll constitutes about 16-20% of the operating costs of a truck and in light of poor demand and minimal freights, this burden will be very hard to bear.


WorldIndiaConfirmed18,601Deaths590Confirmed2,472,259Deaths169,986PUNE: After labour and lockdown, it is the decision of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to charge toll starting April 20, which is likely to disturb the crucial harvesting and procurement of rabi crops. All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) has demanded that the toll on highways should be suspended till May 3 as transport sector will not be able to sustain this burden.

“Procurement of rabi crops will be disturbed as more than 85% of the finance-starved truck operators cannot sustain the burden to toll that will be charged starting April 20. Toll should be suspended as least till May 3, when the lockdown gets over,” said Navin Kumar Gupta, secretary general, AIMTC.

Prices of most of the rabi crops have already come under pressure, which is expected to continue in near future. An exclusive research note shared by ratings agency Crisil with ET says, “Delayed rabi harvest amid lack of labour availability has impacted rabi arrivals. Impact to be more severe on large landholding states of Punjab and Haryana. Going forward, bumper crop output, lower industrial demand and limited exports to exert downward pressure on wheat prices.”

The Crisil note added: “Arrivals for cereals decline on-year in April 2020 due to restrictions on inter state movement of goods and non-availability of logistic partners.”

According to a government statement, the procurement of pulses and oilseeds at MSP from farmers under the Price Support Scheme (PSS) scheme in Rabi 2020-21 season is currently in progress in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. In Rajasthan, procurement of pulses and oilseeds in Kota Division was stopped after announcement of lockdown, which has been started from April 15. Procurement in remaining Divisions of Rajasthan is proposed from first week of May 2020. Procurement of Mustard seeds and Gram was started in Haryana from April 15 in 163 centres. Preparations have been made for procurement of Gram, Masoor and Mustard in Madhya Pradesh and farmers have been informed to bring their produce to the procurement centres.

Kultaran Singh Atwal, president, AIMTC said, “Lockdown has devastated the transporters and truckers financially, and they are trying hard to meet their obligations to their staff, drivers, society and the nation. More than 85% of the transporters are small operators having one to five trucks about 65% of them are self employed, owner-drivers. About 6 to 7% of the trucking population is on the roads now, transporting essential commodities to the nook and corner of the country.”

Transporters said that toll constitutes about 16-20% of the operating costs of a truck and in light of poor demand and minimal freights, this burden will be very hard to bear. “There is shortage of drivers and those who are available; they are engaged in essential supplies that too at a premium. Most of the drivers have gone back home and are unwilling to return home due to social and family pressure and /or risk of getting infected,” said AIMTC release.

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