Rising fuel prices and huge wastage because of waterlogging across large swathes of agricultural land in Bengal are leading to a rise in vegetable prices.
On Friday, pointed gourds sold between Rs 60 and Rs 65 a kg in retail markets across the city. Tomatoes sold for Rs 70 a kg, while sweet pumpkins and carrots sold for Rs 70 and Rs 80 a kg, respectively.
The price of green chillies varied between Rs 90 and Rs 100 a kg.
Wholesale vegetable dealers said they were forced to pay an additional amount to transport vegetables from outside the state.
The domestic produce of several varieties of vegetables was affected after rain flooded large parts of Purba Medinipur, and North and South 24-Parganas.
“Large tracts of farmlands remained submerged for days, particularly across parts of Basirhat and Bongaon in North 24-Parganas, which account for a large chunk of domestic vegetables, including pointed gourds and ridge gourds,” said Kamal Dey, president of the West Bengal Vendors’ Association.
“The waterlogging and subsequent wastage of vegetables have resulted in a skewed demand-supply situation across haats of Bengal.”
Wholesale dealers said several items that had to be brought in from other states around this time of the year were burning bigger holes in their pockets now compared with the same period a year ago.
Most of them blamed the price rise on the hike in petroleum products such as grease and Mobil.
“Transportation of eight tonnes of green chillies from Patna cost Rs 18,000 a year back. Now, it costs around Rs 31,000. An increase of Rs 13,000, that is not so much for the rise in the price of diesel but for allied products like Mobil,” said Satya Ranjan Das, a trader in Sealdah.
“Earlier, a pack of Mobil would cost Rs 300. Now, it’s Rs 570.”
In a year, the price of diesel has gone up by nearly Rs 26 a litre. On Friday, the fuel sold for Rs 100.49 a litre in Kolkata.
Many farmers said transportation costs had gone up several times since the suburban trains were suspended.
“Earlier, we would spend around Rs 1,600 to transport two tonnes of vegetables from Krishnagar by suburban train. Now, we have to pay Rs 10,000,” said Narayan Sarkar, a farmer.