Himachal truckers increase freight charges



Shimla: The transporters at a prominent industrial hub in Himachal Pradesh have increased freight charges by over five percent following last week's hike in diesel price, a representative said Tuesday.

The hike in freight, which comes into immediate effect, would have a spiralling effect on prices of consumer items as most of the fast moving consumer goods companies have set up facilities in the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh (BBN) industrial belt in Solan district.

"We have increased freight charges by six percent within the state and 5.5 percent across India," Nalagarh Truck Operators Union general secretary Vidya Rattan told News agencies.

The union has more than 8,000 trucks and is the only body of truckers that caters to the BBN industrial belt.

A representative of the transport industry said tempo unions in the BBN area have also increased freight charges by five to 10 percent.

Likewise, the Bhagal Land Losers Transporter Cooperative Society, which caters only to the transportation of goods of cement giant Gujarat Ambuja Cements Ltd. based in Darlaghat in Solan district, has increased freight charges by Rs.45 a km per tonne.

"As per agreement with the company, the new freight charges have come into effect automatically after an increase in diesel prices. We are now charging Rs.833 a km for one tonne. Earlier, it was Rs.788 a km for a tonne," society president R.K. Sharma said.

The state has four mega-cement plants -- Barmana (ACC), Darlaghat (Ambuja), Rajban (CCI) and Bagha (Jaypee). The aggregate capacity of these plants is 10.66 million tonnes annually.

The government hiked diesel price by a steep Rs.5 a litre last week.

Congress leader and former union minister Virbhadra Singh Monday urged Congress party president Sonia Gandhi to roll-back the diesel price-hike.

In a missive to Gandhi, five-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh pointed out that roads were the only means of communication in the hill state.

He also asked the state government to lower state taxes. "The state is charging a higher tax of 20 percent on diesel," he said.

However, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has already clarified that the VAT on diesel imposed by the state is quite low.

IANS