Farmers allow movement of trains: Ludhiana industrialists breathe a sigh of relief

The announcement made by farmers’ associations to allow movement of goods trains has come as relief for industrialists and traders in Ludhiana.

Many of them were struggling to make ends meet amid rising cost of raw material and orders being cancelled by buyers due to delay in transportation.

Industrialists had been urging the state government to intervene in the matter, as apart from increase in input cost, the production cycle of industrial units were also hit amid the farmers’ protests.

Importers and exporters from Ludhiana have also welcomed the decision taken by the farmers’ associations.

Rahul Ahuja, chairman, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Punjab, said, “If import and export would stay disturbed for the coming days, many industrial units in the city would have to close down due to shortage of raw material. With no import of raw material, the production cycle was hit badly. Also, orders, especially those booked by customers from abroad, were being cancelled due to the delay. We had been urging the farmers’ associations to allow movement of goods trains and the announcement has come as a major relief for the industry. These agitations in the state also pushes away the investors, which will ultimately hit Punjab’s economy.”

Harish Dua, president of the Knitwear and Apparel Exporters Association, said, “The transportation cost had increased as industrialists were being forced to move goods by road. It was costing us around Rs 20,000 more to transport goods to Mumbai port through road. Further, orders were being cancelled by foreign buyers due to delay.”

At a time when the industry is already struggling to get back on track after lockdown, black marketing of raw material amid shortage of supply is also taking a toll on business as input cost has increased.

Jagbir Sokhi, president of the Sewing Machine Development Cluster, said, “The sewing machine sector is facing shortage of raw material, including pig iron, as consignments are stuck in Ambala due to no movement of goods trains. Due to shortage of material in the market, black marketing has increased. Pig iron which was earlier available at Rs 28,200 per tonne, now costs Rs 41,000 per tonne. The industry was already reeling under losses and the input cost has further increased by over 20% due to the lockdown and ‘rail roko’ protests by farmers.”

Sunil Mehra, state general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, said, “We hope that the business which was going through a slowdown will be back on track during the festival season.”

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