The Telegraph
Thursday , April 17 , 2014
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Tempo ride as costly as food
- Paradox of elections: fewer trucks and vans on roads make kitchen staples dearer in Bokaro, but not in Ranchi

Bokaro, April 16: V.S.P. Singh, a retired official of Bokaro steel plant, cannot wait for the elections to just get over.

Ditto for Binu Datta, a homemaker from Chas.

No, Singh and Datta are not major Narendra Modi fans, who expect the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate to come to power at the Centre and solve all their woes. Their wishes have to do with something very basic — rising prices of vegetables and more transport expenses ever since Lok Sabha elections were announced.

With most buses, trucks and trekkers being taken away for election duty, supply of vegetables and fruits has taken a severe beating in the district. A few heavy vehicles loaded with vegetables and fruits from Purulia in Bengal, Ramgarh and Dhanbad are coming to Bokaro-Chas township these days, creating a shortage in the market and prompting wholesalers to automatically raise prices at a time when demand has picked up because of the wedding season.

For instance, in the past 10 days, potatoes prices have gone from Rs 10 a kg to Rs 15, while onions, which used to cost Rs 12 a kg, are dearer at Rs 17.

The rates of brinjal, gourd and pumpkin have almost doubled to Rs 20 a kg, while ladies’ fingers, cucumber, pointed gourd, radish, peas and cauliflowers are being sold between Rs 40 and Rs 50 a kg.

Similarly, prices of apples and pomegranates have also gone up from Rs 80 to Rs 100 per kg to around Rs 120. Watermelons, grapes and oranges are acting pricey at Rs 22, Rs 80 and Rs 75 a kg, respectively, a 25 to 30 per cent increase in one week.

No wonder, homemakers like Datta, who are having a hard time managing the kitchen budget, are grumpy.

“What can one do except pray for fast completion of the election process? Everything is becoming costlier,” said Datta, whose husband is a schoolteacher.

Wholesalers pleaded helplessness.

Bhola Prasad Sahu, a dealer in grains, explained that in the past week, hardly a few trucks arrived in the wholesale market. “The consignments have stopped coming over the past two days. With the marriage season here, the demand is more. Hence, rice, spices, pulses, black gram and dry fruits have also become expensive by more than 20 per cent in one week,” he added.

Usually, around 200 trucks come to the market everyday. The number has dropped to three at present.

Besides commodities, travelling in public transport has also become costlier. Tempos, which are trying to fill up the gap created by the absence of buses and trekkers on roads, have raised their charges.

The drivers are now asking for Rs 30 and at times Rs 35 for a one-way ride from Bokaro station to Chas township that earlier used to cost Rs 20. If the vehicles are hired on contract, the rates get doubled.

“We have to attend marriage functions for which we have to hire tempos even though we know very well that they will be fleecing us. There is no other option,” V.S.P. Singh said.

Bokaro, which falls under Giridih and Dhanbad constituencies, will vote on Thursday and April 24, respectively.

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