During Durga Puja, residents of Kolkata are facing the challenge of skyrocketing vegetable prices in the local markets.
Durga Puja organizers are also encountering difficulties as they must manage the community kitchens near their Puja pandals. According to the West Bengal government’s task force responsible for regulating essential commodity prices, the average retail prices of most vegetables in the market were notably elevated as of last Sunday.
Two commonly used vegetables in Bengali cuisine, bitter gourd and parval, are currently priced at INR 80 to INR 100 per kilogram. Even the ubiquitous potato commands a relatively high price, ranging from INR 20 to INR 35 per kilogram, depending on the available variety.
The prices for ladies’ fingers and pointed gourd are ranging between INR 70 and INR 90 a kilogram. “On an average the price for each variety of vegetable is at least INR 10 to INR 15 higher per kilogram than what it was last week. Only the price of tomato has come down, ranging between INR 40 to INR 50 a kilogram,” a member of the task force said.
Equally vexing are the steep costs of cooking essentials, such as ginger (priced at INR 280 to INR 300 per kilogram), garlic (ranging from INR 130 to INR 150 per kilogram), and fresh chilies at INR 150 to INR 200 per kilogram.
According to the task force members, the prices of vegetables are expected to continue their upward trajectory until Laxmi Puja, which falls at the end of this week, after which they may see a slight decrease.
“However, the possibility of high prices being maintained till Diwali and Kali Puja next month cannot be ruled out altogether,” the task force member said.
They explained that extensive flooding in the state, caused by late rains, resulted in significant damage to vegetable fields. This, in turn, prompted a sudden surge in the supply of vegetables in the retail markets, driving prices upward.
The task force member also didn’t dismiss the possibility of certain hoarders playing a role in the sharp rise of vegetable prices.