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Rising fuel prices set Kolkata markets on fire

Common people are left with a hole in their pockets and are struggling to meet the rising expenses

Kinsuk Basu | Published 08.04.22, 07:15 AM
Few buyers at Jadu Babu’s Bazar in Bhowanipore on Thursday evening.

Few buyers at Jadu Babu’s Bazar in Bhowanipore on Thursday evening.

Picture by Gautam Bose

Prices of vegetables, fruits and other essential commodities continued to shoot through the roof, keeping up with the rise in fuel prices. 

Common people are left with a hole in their pockets and are struggling to meet the rising expenses.

Across Kolkata, most varieties of vegetables and fruits remained way too costly with that of lemon crossing all its previous records. 

A pair of lemons sold for a price between Rs 14 and Rs 20, a price that several Kolkatans said was almost three times of what they have paid for in the last few years. 

Ridge gourd cost Rs 50 a kg while green papaya sold for Rs 40 a kg, up by almost Rs 10 within a week, vegetable sellers in the retail markets said.

Brinjal sold for Rs 50 a kg, the fuel price hike accounting for a rise of almost Rs 15 a kg over a week-and-a-half.  Price of pointed gourd or potol went up almost Rs 20 a kg and sold for Rs 60 across most markets in Kolkata on Thursday.

“It has become almost impossible for the farmers to bring their produce from the districts to the wholesale markets in Kolkata. A truckload of farm produce from Bongaon in North 24-Parganas district to Koley Market in central Kolkata's Sealdah would earlier cost Rs 8,000. Now it costs Rs 12,000,” said Kamal De, a member of the state government’s task force on vegetables and the president of the West Bengal Vendors Association.

On Thursday a litre of diesel sold at Rs 99.83 and petrol at Rs 115.12, the rise resulting in nearly 15 to 20 per cent hike in the price of almost all the essential items. The price of diesel went up by almost Rs 15 a litre in a span of a month while that of petrol shot up by nearly Rs 11 compared to that in March.

Traders from wholesale markets said the supply of lemon around this time is mostly sourced from parts of Tamil Nadu, which was severely hit by rains towards end of October resulting in poor produce. 

“The demand-supply problem of lemon could have still been managed had it not been for the rising cost of diesel. There has been a hike of nearly 20 per cent of all vegetables reaching us from other states,” said Subodh Chandra Jana, a wholesale trader. 

With the local variety of cucumber and ripe papaya yet to make it to the markets in adequate quantities and their demand rising during Ramazan price of both these items have shot up. 

“The price of ripe papaya has gone up by Rs 20 to touch the Rs 60 a kg mark, at par with cucumber. We are finding it difficult to sell cucumber at Rs 60 a kg from Rs 40 a kg a week back,” said Bapi Halder, a fruit seller in Kasba. “The price of apples too has gone up from Rs 140 to Rs 150 a kg,” he said.

The price of cooking oil too has shot up. A litre of mustard oil now sells at Rs 195-200 from Rs 165-180 a few weeks back, traders said. Price of red lentil (masoor daal) also went up from Rs 110 to Rs 120 a kg across several markets in the city. 

Even the fish, which is sourced from others states including Odisha and Tamil Nadu, have started pinching the quintessential maach lover. 

Traders said against a regular flow of close to 70 trucks to wholesale markets from these two states, the number has slipped to 40-50 trucks a day.

“There is a demand-supply mismatch beacuse of the rise in fuel prices. Diesel is selling over Rs 100 a litre in several districts. The retailers are not willing to take risks investing hefty amounts,” said Sadhan Karmarkar, a fish seller from  Behala. 

“Even the price of ice blocks have shot up making it difficult for us to store unsold fishes,” he said.

 

Last updated on 08.04.22, 07:15 AM
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