Businesses lose $2.8 billion due to strike

Last Updated 05 July 2010, 13:09 IST

The 12-hour strike called by opposition parties against the recent fuel price hike threw road and rail transport and cargo handling out of gear, particularly in the Left and Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states.

Over 60 long-distance trains were cancelled or disrupted, according to railway ministry officials.

About 93 domestic and international flights were cancelled and trucks stayed off the roads. Offices were either shut or reported thin attendance in many parts of the country and markets were deserted.

The impact of the strike was quite evident in the country's financial capital Mumbai. Taxis and trucks stayed off the street while buses and trains ran near empty. At least 86 domestic flights - 46 outgoing and 40 incoming - were cancelled to and from Mumbai.
Many offices reported thin attendance and trading volumes plunged on the Dalal Street.   
According to an estimate by a well known non-governmental organisation, Agni, Mumbai's lost its daily contribution to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) of about Rs.300 crore, of which Rs.200 crore comes from the organised sector and the rest Rs.100 crore from the unorganised sector.

Airports in Delhi was open, but some flights were cancelled in response to low passenger loads, a spokesman said. The airport in Kolkata was shut.
Life and business came to a standstill in the country's silicon valley, Bangalore. All the software firms in this tech hub were closed. 

According to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the total losses to the economy was Rs.13,000 crore.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) put the figure at Rs.3,000 crore.
"The bharat bandh has led to significant impact on business and trade in some parts of the country. As is the case with any bandh, the worst affected are daily wage earners and people dependent on small trade," said a CII statement.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) said the strike affected manufacturing in most of the states.

"Bharat Bandh almost paralysed Indian economy and eroded its national GDP by a production loss of nearly a full day which in monetary terms can be roughly estimated at Rs. 10,000 crore, assuming that India's GDP would stay around Rs.50 lakh crore with a growth rate of over 8 percent in current fiscal," said Assocham.
The sectors which were badly hit were road transport and logistics, manufacturing, ports.
The deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia said the opposition to the fuel price hike "did not make any sense".
"It is completely illogical to oppose the fuel price hike if it is your view that you should drive the country into economic policies that do not make any sense," Ahluwalia told reporters.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had Sunday ruled out any rollback of the fuel prices. On June 25, the government raised the prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene by Rs 3.50, Rs.2 and Rs.3 a litre respectively, and increased the rates for cooking gas by Rs.35 per cylinder.

The hike in prices of petroleum goods, however, is likely to have a cascading, though short-term effect on the already high inflation.
Wholesale prices-based inflation crossed double-digits, (10.16 percent provisionally) in May, but as per the final figures, the rate of price rise has been 11 percent or more since February.

(Published 05 July 2010, 13:09 IST)

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