Truckers accuse Ultratech & Adani cement of failing to honour freight hike
Shimla, May 18
The truckers and their unions engaged in the cement transport business with Ultratech and Adani Cement are warning of a possible confrontation as the companies have failed to fulfill their promise of increasing freight charges. Despite assurances from the former Jai Ram Thakur government and the current Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu administration, the truckers are disappointed and considering another agitation.
Ramakrishna Sharma, former head of Baghal Land Loser Transport Co-operative Sabha in Darla Ghat, accused the present state government of not honoring the promise to raise freight rates. The demand for a freight charge increase was also raised by Nand Lal Chauhan, the legal advisor of Baghal and Mangal Vikas Parishad, representing truck operators involved in transporting cement for Ultratech.
Truckers are rallying against both the state government and the cement manufacturers, expressing their frustration with the recent reduction in freight charges by Adani Cement, which was followed by a shutdown. Sharma highlighted that Adani Cement had promised a 13 paise increase in freight charges due to the rise in diesel prices, but the government has failed to ensure this payment to the operators for almost six months. He urged Sukhu to immediately implement this 13 paise increase to compensate for the rising diesel costs.
Sharma expressed disappointment with the state government and blamed it for the reduction in operators’ fares under pressure from cement manufacturers. He reminded that the former Jairam government had approved a hike in freight rates for cement transportation, but the proposed increase was delayed and meanwhile the code of conduct got enforced. He demanded an immediate increase in the fares for trucks engaged in the transportation of civil supplies, which have remained unchanged for nearly 10 years, causing heavy losses to the operators.
If the hike is not implemented soon, Sharma warned that the operators’ anger could lead to another movement, following the two-month shutdown that ended in February, this year, in Darlaghat and Bharmana.
The agreements between cement manufacturers and truckers regarding reduced freight rates are causing anger among the truck operators and may potentially lead to a major industrial dispute in the state.
Following the dispute, new freight rates were agreed upon for the plants in Gagal and Darlaghat, with single axle trucks of 12 tonnes to be paid Rs10.3 per tonne per km (previously 11.41 ptpk in Bharmana and Rs 10.58 at Ambuja Cements’ Darlaghat). For multi-axle 24-tonne trucks, the rate was reduced to Rs9.3 per tonne. However, the anticipated reduction in freight charges for cement customers in the state has not materialized.
The Darlaghat and Bharmana plants contribute about 15 percent to Adani Cement’s annual sales, with a production volume of approximately 7.5 million tonnes per year. The closure of these units affected around 15,000 people directly and indirectly.
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