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Truckers' strike hits Indian industry
[NEW DELHI] Indian carmakers Friday said they faced an "unprecedented crisis" due to an ongoing strike by truckers which has caused parts shortages and hit exports.
The All India Motor Transport Congress called the strike to press Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to reduce taxes on fuel, roll back higher insurance premiums and cut highway tolls.
The truck drivers' union says hundreds of thousands of members are backing the campaign which has seen vehicles stranded at borders and fears that food prices could rise because of shortages.
Media reports said many Indian industrial giants and suppliers of essential food commodities were suffering growing disruption.
The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers(Siam) said its members, including Tata Motors and the Indian operations of Ford and Skoda, faced an "unprecedented crisis" because of parts shortages due to the week-long strike.
Siam deputy director general Sugato Sen said in a statement that consignments were stuck on roads across India.
"Even the exports have taken a hit, resulting in losses for most of our members, who are unable to fulfil their export commitments," Mr Sen said.
Industrialised states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu which have key textile, pharmaceutical, chemical and ceramic industries have also seen disruptions.
Experts said that while essential food items had so far avoided problems because of local supplies, prices would soon start rising if the strike goes on.
On the Indian frontier with Pakistan, Amarjeet Singh Chinda and about 350 other drivers joined the strike earlier in the week, largely halting the limited cross-border trade between the arch-rivals.
"Other associations have been on a strike since July 20 but we only joined three days ago after others insisted that we show solidarity with a common cause against the government," Chinda, president of the Attari border truck operators association, told AFP.
The association's drivers mostly transport dried fruit, dates, cement and gypsum from Pakistan. These are collected at the Attari crossing in Punjab state, the only place where goods can go between the two countries.