The indefinite strike by the truckers belonging to South India Motor Transport Association (SIMTA) entered its fourth consecutive day on Sunday. And with this, the vegetables prices in most of the southern cities have skyrocketed, even recording a 100% increase at some places.
According to GR Shanmugappa, President of SIMTA, nearly 30 lakh trucks are staying off the roads. The strike that began following the Centre's decision to increase third party insurance premium by 50%, has now begun to burn a hole in the common man's pocket.
The worst hit appears to be Chennai, where most vegetables in the wholesale market have seen a minimum increase of Rs 15. This because a majority of Chennai’s vegetables come from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Koyambedu vegetable market association advisor VR Soundararajan said that while more than 400 trucks used to enter the market on a daily basis, the number has reduced by half following the strike.
In Chennai, the wholesale prices of beans have skyrocketed from Rs 30/kg to Rs 80/kg in just two days.
While the price of peas has shot up from Rs 40 per kg to Rs 60 per kg, the prices of ladies finger and brinjal have also increased by Rs 15.
Vegetables sold at retail shops will charge a minimum of Rs 10 extra, Soundararajan says.
While beans, cabbage and cauliflower comes from Karnataka, other vegetables including brinjal and potato come from Andhra Pradesh.
Though the prices of vegetables in Hyderabad is stable as on Sunday, vendors, however, warn that come Monday, the cost is expected to increase.
"For now, we have enough stock in the market, but the situation will change by tomorrow. The prices will increase by Rs 8- Rs 15. Today, the tomato rates are Rs 18 per kg, but tomorrow we are expecting that it will go up to 30," said Balu, a vegetable vendor in BS Makhta in Hyderabad.
The Rythu Bazaar in Kukatpally also expects vegetable prices to shoot up over the week. "Right now the rates are normal, but if the strike doesn't stop it will hike the price of vegetables. However, chilli prices have come down over the past few days," noted Bakka Reddy, who works at Kukatpally Rythu Bazaar.
Reports suggest that vegetable prices in Kerala have also been on the rise since the truckers went on indefinite strike. The price of beans which was earlier Rs 40/kg has reportedly increased to Rs 100/kg.
The impact of the truckers’ strike on Bengaluru has not been felt in the city until now. However, vegetable vendors say that the prices could drastically go up if the strike continues.
Babu, a wholesale vegetable vendor at Kalasipalayam vegetable market said that the price of essential vegetables have remained the same for the past few days.
While the retail prices of some vegetables such as onion and tomato has recorded an increase of Rs 10 per kg in the last two days, vendors say that the situation is not as grim as it is in other states.
Lorry strike to continue
Meanwhile, SIMTA President GR Shanmugappa told TNM that the strike will continue unless all their demands were met.
"The government has now agreed to go easy on scrapping vehicles that are older than 15 years, but we will not call off the strike unless all our demands are met. We are meeting officials from Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) in Hyderabad on Monday," he said.
Channa Reddy, president of Federation of Karnataka State Lorry Owners Association said that nearly 3 lakh lorries are off the roads in Karnataka.
"The effect of the strike is slowly being felt on other sectors, there will be a cascading effect on the prices of the supplies too."
From Monday, Bengaluru Tourist Taxi Owners' Association have also decided to take part in the strike.
BTTOA's President Radhakrishna Holla said that the association have decided not to take anymore fresh bookings.
(With inputs from Soumya Chatterjee, Aditi Mallick)