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After cash crunch, food inflation looming in Bengal?

With truck loads of fish, eggs, vegetables and fruits stuck on highways, city’s markets could go dry in the next few days resulting in inflation and food crisis.

kolkata Updated: Nov 15, 2016 13:01 IST
Joydeep Thakur
With truck loads of fish, eggs, vegetables and fruits stuck on highways and at various interstate borders and farmers unable to harvest their crops because of severe cash crunch, experts apprehend that the city’s markets could go dry in the next few days resulting in inflation and food crisis.
With truck loads of fish, eggs, vegetables and fruits stuck on highways and at various interstate borders and farmers unable to harvest their crops because of severe cash crunch, experts apprehend that the city’s markets could go dry in the next few days resulting in inflation and food crisis.(HT Photo/Subham Jyoti)

Till date you have been bearing with a cash crisis. But now brace for a food crisis and inflation.

With truck loads of fish, eggs, vegetables and fruits stuck on highways and at various interstate borders and farmers unable to harvest their crops because of severe cash crunch, experts apprehend that the city’s markets could go dry in the next few days resulting in inflation and food crisis.

“Thousands of trucks all over the country carrying essential goods and perishables are facing huge cash shortage crisis. This issue will become even more serious over next few days and push essential prices up beyond control. Quick action needed,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted on Monday.

A severe cash crunch has hit the nation including West Bengal after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes on November 8.

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“This crisis has now hit the truck drivers who were bringing in everyday food items from other states including fish, eggs, vegetables and fruits. Faced with severe cash crunch drivers are unable to buy food, pay taxes, repair vehicles in case they develop snags and unable to load or unload the items. We are heading towards a major crisis if this situation lingers for another week,” said Subhash Chandra Bose secretary of Federation of West Bengal Truck Operators’ Association.

Later in the evening, Mamata announced waiver of agriculture tax that are taken at sabji mandis to give relief to truck drivers. Bose however said that this is too negligible an amount and won’t solve the crisis.

Sources said that while a few hundred trucks loaded with fish and eggs are stuck at the Bengal – Odisha border, trucks bringing in fruits such as sweet lemons (mosambi), pomegranates, grapes and oranges from Maharashtra are stuck at Jamsola border. Similarly truck loads of potato are waiting at Jamsala border and those carrying various types of dal are waiting at Golapbag border.

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Farmers in various districts of Bengal who were harvesting their yields from the fields have also been hit. The wholesale markets in the districts and the Haats (weekly markets) have already started to run dry as farmers are unable to pay the labourers who harvest the crops from the farmlands.

“Several wholesale markets in the districts such as Madanpur and Gadamara in Nadia where farmers usually come to sell their harvest are gradually drying up. Farmers are unable to pay the labourers who harvest the crops because they have no cash. If these markets go dry the ripples would be felt in the city markets in the next few days,” said Kamal Dey, member of the agriculture marketing force set up by Mamata.