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Ludhiana Industrialists appeal to farmer unions: Gherao politicians, but let the trains run

While demanding immediate resumption of goods trains, many industrialists said that farmers must to adopt other modes of protests that do not make industry suffer.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | November 8, 2020 2:29:20 pm
Goods lying at Ludhiana railway station at freight trains continue to remain suspended. (Express photo by Gurmeet Singh)

LUDHIANA, the hub of winter hosiery market for the whole country with an approximate turnover of Rs 12,000 crore, is staring at Centre as well as Punjab governments to quickly resolve the issue of suspension of goods as well as passenger trains which they say has hit business in the industrial city.

While demanding immediate resumption of goods trains, many industrialists said that farmers must to adopt other modes of protests that do not make industry suffer. They said that farmers can continue gheraoing politicians, but they should let all trains run.

Sudarshan Jain, owner of Sarjeevan Knitwears and president of Knitwear Apparel manufacturers association of Ludhiana (KAMAL), said, “Our hosiery and textile industry has around 20,000 units in Ludhiana and we cater for winter supplies of almost the entire country apart from exporting goods. However, this year it seems that our industry will not cross more than Rs 5,000 crores in turnover as we are not ready with more than 50 per cent of the products compared to last season. Jackets, sweaters, kids wear, women wear….lots of stuff is made by our industry for north India, while states like MP, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra too buy limited stuff based on the dip in temperature in these areas. In June-July, no customer came to Ludhiana to book orders for winters due to Covid scare and limited number of trains. We expected people to come after shraddh but from September 24, no passenger train movement is happening in Punjab and goods trains completely stopped after October 1 barring two days October 22 and 23. Now the entire issue is political but common man and even industry is suffering.”

Around 125 branded hosiery units are part of KAMAL. Jain said that material was going by road to nearby states such as Haryana, Himachal, J&K, but wholesale garments go via trains as they are cost effective.

Tarun Jain Bawa, president of Bahadurke Textile Knitwear Association, said, “We cannot count our losses as of now, but we are upset as our summer season had gone under losses due to Covid and now winter is under losses. It seems that everyone in senior BJP leadership is busy in Bihar elections and they are not resolving the issue. If farmers are upset over new bills, they need to be listened to rather than adopting a confrontational attitude. Why will a farmer sit on roads, on tracks day and night? Leaders must approach them and get the situation resolved as we have already suffered a lot.”

Bobby Jindal, general secretary of Punjab Dyers Association, said,”Farmers should not be allowed to sit on tracks as they are our life lines, they should protest against the politicians with whom they are upset. Rail traffic disruption has caused us huge loss. Our customers did not come from many states to select samples due to which we made 50 per cent less material compared to last year. We were expecting good sales as Covid cases had started reducing in the state. Five of my containers are stuck at Delhi and Gujarat ports, which has cost me around Rs 1.75 crores. These had imported yarn from China. Now, new material was unloaded at Mumbai port, from where I had to bring it to to Ludhiana by road. Imagine the extra cost I incurred. Industry wants resumption of trains and no more politics should be played over it by either Centre or state once the tracks have been vacated now.”

Surinder Kumar Sharma, president of the Wholesale Hosiery Association which mostly deals in old Ludhiana markets such as Dal Bazar, Hindi Bazar, Gandhi Nagar, Akal Market, said, “We deal in trading and we don’t manufacture products. I suggest to farmers that they should gherao BJP leaders houses or all those politicians who are not listening to them. Why are they causing loss to businessman, let passenger as well as goods trains run so that customers can come in market and book orders. Customers from nearby 2-3 states have come so far. We could not sell even 10 per cent of last year till now. North East customers have not come to us till now. This politics is costing us a lot.”

He added, “Our packed cartons are lying at railway stations as well which were booked based on orders by few regular clients. Farmers should think in larger interest. I feel that many protesters don’t even know as for what they are protesting.”

Industrialists, meanwhile, revealed that they also cater to Central Asian markets like Russia, Uzbekistan and they need to meet the export deadlines as well.

“No issue should linger on for so long. Now that Bihar elections are over, we hope that something will be thought about industrialists as well by the Centre,” said Bawa Jain.

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