Trucks supplying coal from New Mangalore Port to steel, sugar and paper industries located in different parts of the state have decided to go on an indefinite strike from September 25 demanding a hike in transportation cost and fulfilling other demands posing a serious threat to steel Paper and sugar industry in Karnataka.
There are over 2000 trucks that transport coal from the Karnataka’s coastal port to the to steel industries in Ballari and Koppal industries and sugar and paper industries in Shivamogga, Mysuru and Chamarajanagar districts. On a daily average, over 300 coal-laden trucks leave the port for these destinations.
Dakshina Kannada Truck Owners Association president Sushanth Shetty was quoted by media reports as saying that while their operational cost has almost doubled in the last five years, the transportation cost has not been increased by the coal buyers leading to huge stress on the truck owners. “
In the last five years, the cost of a truck (14-wheel) has gone up from Rs 30 lakh to Rs 40 lakh, a tyre from Rs 16,000 to Rs 28,000, road tax by Rs 2,000 while the fuel and spare parts costs have doubled. On the other hand, the coal buyers have raised the transportation cost by just Rs 100,” he alleged.
Stating that the steep rise in operational cost has resulted in many truck owners defaulting the loans, the Association has demanded the government to fix Rs 1,300 for every ton of coal supply to Koppal and Rs 1,400 to Ballari, in order to bail them out from the crisis. A fortnight ago, the Association requested the district administration to address their grievances. The truckers decided to go on strike as there was no response.
In March this year, the Transport Department increased the transportation charges of goods vehicles in light of a steep hike in the cost of vehicles, their registration, spare parts, insurance, fuel etc. But, the coal buyers did not care to follow it, said Shetty.
Besides trucks from outside the state illegally operate in Karnataka have also hit them badly. While the trucks registered within the state are allowed to transport goods within Karnataka, several trucks belonging to Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu supply coal from New Mangalore Port to industries within the state and the authorities have not taken any action against them.