The ‘Rail Roko’ protests over farm bills by farmers followed by the suspension of freight trains by the Centre has caused major disruptions in the supply chain in the state of Punjab.
It is believed that the move on suspension of freight train taken by the centre has inflicted the wounds on the several industries in Punjab right from coal to agriculture. It has pushed the industries already struggling to make a come-back from the COVID-aftermath against the wall.
Speaking on the issues faced due to the non-operation of freight trains, Mr Anil Kumar Mishra, Pladis Global said, “Industries are facing huge losses. The issue of non-operation of freight trains is costing us our business and customer relations. There is the unavailability of containers which is hampering our efficiency. Also, we have to re-route our operations which is also adversely affecting the efficiency of operation.”
Mr Mishra also informed that a huge gap between demand and supply is also being faced.
The suspension of freight trains is also affecting the import-export of the state. “Import is severely disrupted,” said Mr Mishra. The disruption in import is leading to the absence of raw material due to which is having a cascading effect on different industries as they are unable to continue production, thus ultimately affecting exports equally.
The exporters in the state are foreseeing order cancellations and penalties on failure to deliver goods coupled with credibility loss. “It is a big issue for exporters. They are unable to match customer satisfaction and freight rates,” Mr Mishra said.
Furthermore, the domestic distribution is also hard to meet as transportation via road instead of rail will lead to substantial increase in expenses. Also, the truck trailers lack in terms of capacity when compared to rail.
Mr Mishra said, “Although road movement is happening, the trailer can’t handle the capacity that was earlier being handled by the rails.” That means more than one truck is required to transport the capacity that is being transported by one rail container, which increase the cost of transportation by many folds.
He also informed that there has been no clarity as to when will the issue be resolved. He adds, “While we are already facing disruption issues in Punjab, now the protester in Rajasthan are also causing disruption on rail routes on Aarakshan. If this continues, the entire business will likely face major losses and will be halted.”
The Railways have not run any freight trains to Punjab since October 24. Railway divisions at Ferozepur and Ambala, which operate trains in Punjab, have not received any directions on the resumption of service.