KOLKATA: The impact of the three-day truck strike was felt across the city retail markets even after goods vehicles resumed delivering essentials on Thursday. The supply chain disruptions led to a spike in prices of some items, which may persist till the Puja.
The supply of fish, egg, onion, tomato, beans, capsicum, cabbage and cauliflower was especially hit, leading to a sharp upswing in prices. The price of onion, which had stabilized a bit, went up again. The wholesale price rose from Rs 40 a kg to Rs 50 a kg, making it as costly as Rs 70 a kg in the retail market. “Supply from Nashik has been erratic. As trucks were stopped at the Bengal-Odisha border due to the strike, many went off to other states, fearing rot,” said Kamal Dey, member of the market task force and president of West Bengal Vendors’ Association.
Supply of other perishable items, like cabbage, cauliflower, tomato, beans, capsicum and tomato, was also affected. Most of the retail markets finished off the old stock at a premium, using the strike as an excuse. “Only 30% of the vendors turned up to sell vegetables on Thursday,” said Sanjay Rakshit of Bariaha market. Prices of these commodities may get higher after sorting since the price of the rotten vegetables will be absorbed in the cost, he explained.
This is typically a lean period for Bengal’s agriculture production. The winter produces are only a fortnight away. This is the period when Bengal becomes dependent on other states. Cabbage and cauliflower come from Maharashtra, and tomato, capsicum and beans are brought from the southern states. The truckers’ strike at this juncture proved detrimental to the supply, said Dey.
Apart from vegetables, the retail markets across the city, as well as Howrah, also had a scarcity of fish. And whatever was available was became costlier. Locally caught rohu, both big and small varieties, and some other local fish, like bhola, pangash and mourala, were all that most markets had. Very few fishermen could bring in hilsa and those who did, brought fish under 600 grams.
The price of katla (full fish) was allegedly nearly double the usual at Gariahat Market. “I don’t buy rohu because of the bones and stick to katla, But instead of paying Rs 260 a kg, I had to pay Rs 340 a kg on Thursday,” said Sukharanjan Bagchi, a retired professor who lives on Kankulia Road.
Suhrid Chandra Paul, a retired BSF officer who lives in Kasba, said he did not see good quality prawn anywhere in the Kasba or Bosepukur markets.
“Even the slightly smaller variety that is sold for Rs 350 a kg could not be seen anywhere. Only the extremely small prawn normally used to make pakoras at roadside stalls were available. But I decided against buying them because it is tough to clean them properly,” he said.
The big variety of pomfret was missing almost everywhere while the small variety, that normally sells at Rs 250, went for Rs 300 on Thursday, sources said. “The supply is unlikely to improve in the next couple of days even if the strike normalizes because the demand has peaked and so has the price,” said Ranjan Jati, owner of a stall at Lake Market.
The escalating prices have affected Lake Market and Maniktala Market so much that many vendors chose not to open shops on Thursday.