NEW DELHI - Many Indian ports were paralyzed on Wednesday and food prices nationwide started soaring as a truckers strike dragged into its third day.
The country's biggest car maker, Maruti Udyog Ltd, a unit of Suzuki Motor Corp., said it might temporarily shut down production as the stoppage had hit component supplies.
The truckers, who carry the bulk of India's freight, went off the roads on Monday to back demands for stable diesel prices, minimum freight rates and fewer levies and taxes and the repeal of an order to scrap trucks older than 15 years.
Transport Minister B.C. Khanduri said he had invited the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) for talks on Thursday. The AIMTC's members operate around three million trucks.
"They can come and give me their demands but the discussion has to be detailed and the groundwork has to be done (before an agreement)," Khanduri told reporters. "We have no major disagreements and I think there was no need for this strike."
Khanduri said the impact of the strike varied from marginal to widespread around the country but added the situation was not "alarming" anywhere.
The AIMTC, which has held talks with the government in the past, has said it is open to fresh negotiations.
Cargo movement to and from Kandla Port, one of India's busiest, has come to a standstill and operations may have to be suspended soon, said one official.