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Stuck in traffic in Nano land

The blockade of the national highway passing through Singur has triggered a shortage of essential supplies and brought hardship for people in other parts of the state, report Sujit Nath & Jaidev Majumdar.

business Updated: Aug 27, 2008 20:36 IST

Mamata Banerjee may well be fighting for a handful of farmers in Singur, but the blockade of the national highway passing through Singur has triggered a shortage of essential supplies and brought hardship for people in other parts of the state.

So much so that, the state's only automobile-maker, Hindustan Motors, was forced to declare an extended weekend holiday for its employee, as component supplies from Indore and Allahabad were hit by the blocakde on NH-2.

More than 40,000 long-distance trucks coming from other states were stuck, resulting in shortage of essential supplies and spike in their prices. Trucks loaded with fish and eggs are causing severe air pollution.

Prices of many daily consumption goods have increased by 20 to 25 per cent in Kolkata, Hindustan Times found out on visits to Jadubabu, Salt Lake, New Market, Kestopur and Asubabu markets.

“We are not responsible for the price hike,” said Kamlesh Kumar Gupta, secretary of Calcutta Kirana Merchants’ Association. “There is a scarcity of goods and we have to bear the cost of goods, which we are importing from other highways,” he said. “The costs of importing daily need items gone up because the transporters are charging more price, as they have to burn more fuel while delivering the goods.”

Even ambulance services in the region have been hit.

“We have stopped providing ambulances due to the crises,” secretary of Burdwan Ambulance Association Samrat Bhattacharya said.

There are also worries over availability of medicines at hospitals in southern parts of the state.

“Kolkata is one of the biggest market from where medicine mainly goes to South Bengal. With Mamata Banerjee’s siege several patients who are depending on life saving drugs are in major trouble,” said Samiranjan Das, secretary of Bengal Chemist and Druggist association.

Meanwhile, Hindustan Motors said it was looking to bring in components using alternative routes, if the crisis prolongs.

HM's Uttarpara plant, which makes the Ambassador and is located in the outskirts of Kolkata, is barely 50 kilometers away from the upcoming Nano plant in Singur.

“So far there has not been an impact on production though component supply has been slightly hit,” said Soni Srivastav, spokes at Hindustan Motors. “If the situation does not ease in the next few days then we will have to take a call on how much we will be able to produce next week.”