Siliguri, Nov. 28: The brunt of political unrest in the Darjeeling hills accompanied by six-day shutdown has hit the wholesale orange market here. The loss of business is estimated to be Rs 10 lakh.
Oranges come to Siliguri Regulated Market from places like Bijanbari, Sukhiapokhri, Soureni, Mirik, Teesta, Rambhi, Mungpoo, Kalimpong and a few places in Sikkim. From here they are supplied to North and South Dinajpurs, Malda districts in north Bengal, various parts of south Bengal and also to Bangladesh through the border at Changrabandha in Cooch Behar.
“But growers from all the three hill subdivisions could not take their produces to the market from November 21 because of the strike,” said Tapan Saha, the president of the Fruit and Vegetable Commission Agents’ Association. “Since there was no supply of the fruit, we could not enjoy the benefits of early season rush that usually begins from the first week of November.”
Like other years, the orange market had picked up well in early November. “Everything was going fine when the sudden political unrest served a severe blow to the orange trade, and also to the growers,” Saha said.
About 40 traders in the regulated market deal exclusively with orange. “Every day we used to get about seven to eight truckloads of orange on an average. We send equal quantity of fruits outside as well,” said Gopal Pal Choudhury, one of the traders. “Each truck contains about 20,000 oranges and price of which was Rs 3,000 to Rs 2,500 per thousand oranges.”
There are eight to 10 exporters, who send oranges to Bangladesh. “But the turmoil changed the trend, resulting in a transaction loss of about Rs 10 lakh,” Saha said.
Now that the strike has been withdrawn, traders are expecting normality to return in the hills. Since orange suppliers of the market are only from the three hill subdivisions, a peaceful atmosphere is necessary there for transaction of business, Saha said.
However, no trucks arrived today as it would take time for normality to set in. “We hope the market will spring back to its original form soon,” said Arup Saha, another trader.