Bengal cold storages threaten to shut down

February 22nd, 2011 - 9:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Feb 22 (IANS) Demanding an increase in rent due to escalating electricity and fuel bills, the West Bengal Cold Storage Association (WBCSA) Tuesday threatened to stop operations in 470 cold storages in the state if this was not done.”Farmers will start harvesting potato from the first week of March and it has to be kept in cold storage immediately after the harvest. But we will have to stop operation if the government does not increase rent,” WBCSA president Swapan Mondal told media persons here.

Mondal said while electricity rates - the main input for the cold storages - have jumped from Rs.3.54 per unit in 2009 to Rs.4.27 per unit last year, the diesel cost has gone up 14 percent. “At the same time, labour wages have also increased by 30 percent,” he said.

“It is no more viable for us to run the cold storages at the existing monthly rent of of Rs.101 per quintal for south Bengal and Rs.109 for north Bengal,” he said.

Out of the 470 cold storages, potatoes are stored in around 400.

Mondal said the WBCSA had pressed for an increase of Rs.14 per quintal in the monthly rent in 2010. “But the rent was hiked by only Rs.11.40. We have suffered a great deal last year. Now things have gone too much further,” he said.

WBCSA vice president Rampada Paul alleged that the state government was ignoring the recommendation of an expert committee it had set up which suggested an increase of Rs.13.10 per quintal.

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