Transporters at the customs-monitored Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Tughlakabad have parked their trucks for the day, with business shrinking to half ever since the demonetisation decision. Satpal Singh, who drives an Eicher truck, waits at the depot for his next order. Last night, he said he transported five tonnes of clothing from Dabri to Tughlakabad, from where it will be transported to Mumbai by train and shipped to Dubai.
“Over a week or 10 days, we would make two trips across the country. Now, we make just one. Business has fallen to half for drivers and owners. From Rs 50,000 a month per truck, we now make half of that,” said Singh. He also alleged drivers had been losing money in bribes to some policemen, who now take Rs 500 notes but refuse to return change. “Our maaliks pay us in old notes and we give these to police and at petrol pumps. Policemen threaten that we either give them change or the entire amount,” he alleged.
Transporters also lamented how their business had been hit in general because of the high green tax introduced by the government for loaded trucks entering and empty ones leaving the city. “Demonetisation will be the last nail in the coffin,” said Dharmender Singh Chauhan, a transporter who owns 20 goods vehicles.
Nanhe Singh, a driver, held up a silver hologrammed piece of paper with faces embossed on it and a number printed in red. “This is Rs 100. The MCD toll centres are issuing these as change for the Rs 1,500 we pay as green tax for entry into Delhi,” he said.
He said that while drivers have been accepting these coupons, they are not sure if these will be accepted by toll centres when they return. “I am planning to collect more such tokens to pay back at the toll centre,” said Singh. But South Municipal Corporation spokesperson Mukesh Yadav said, “I do not have any intimation of such practices.” In a meeting with around 200 transporters, the Delhi government said it will move the court seeking exemption of “green tax” levied on trucks till December 31.