KOLKATA: Prices of staple vegetables have shot up in Kolkata markets because of violent protests across the state against the amended Citizenship Act, leading to blockades of national and state highways.
Onions, potatoes and green chillies are getting costlier because transport operators in other states are declining to send their trucks or demanding exorbitant prices. On Tuesday, the price of onion touched Rs 170 per kg while potato price was Rs 25 per kg in Kolkata markets. In December in previous years, the onion price was Rs 25 per kg and potato was Rs 15 per kg.
In the last three days, only three trucks of onions arrived in Posta, Kolkata’s biggest wholesale market. "Despite the availability of onions in Bangalore and Nashik wholesale markets, truckers are refusing to transport it because of the ongoing protests in Bengal," said Rabindranath Koley, the general secretary of the Forum of Traders Organisation.
The Posta and Koley markets in Kolkata normally get 50 to 70 trucks of onions every day around this time.
The supply of seasonal vegetables has reduced as farmers and traders of the production zones are deciding to sell it in the local market because of blockades on the roads leading to Kolkata.
"During this period, potatoes from Uttar Pradesh and Punjab reach Kolkata’s wholesale markets and the price in retail markets remains Rs 13 to Rs 15 per kg. But this time, the new crop could not reach the city," said Koley.
Bengal’s Murshidabad district supplies green chillies of good quality to Kolkata. "The product is not arriving in the city because of blockades on the railway tracks and highways. Prices have shot up and are two-and-a-half-times higher than the normal rate," said a wholesaler in Koley market.
The retailers did not foresee immediate relief. "The ruling Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said the movement against the Centre’s decision will continue till the new Act is scrapped. It means that more roadblocks will take place. If the situation continues like this, we don’t know where the price will reach," said Dipak Sarkar, a retailer in Dum Dum market.
Many retailers already stopped selling onions when its price shot through the roof. Now the potato price has become the prime concern. "This particular vegetable is used every day in the kitchens of almost all Bengalis. If potatoes do not arrive from Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, the balance between demand and supply will collapse completely," said a trader.