Home » Cold Storage Crisis in Bengal: A Plea for Economic Survival

Cold Storage Crisis in Bengal: A Plea for Economic Survival

The West Bengal Cold Storage Association, representing the sole active body of cold storage operators in the state, convened a crucial Press Meet at the Press Club, Kolkata, to shed light on the profound challenges faced by the industry. At the heart of the issue is the inability to operate cold storage units effectively due to a substantial disparity between government-approved rents and the actual costs incurred by operators.

The Press Meet saw the participation of key figures in the industry, including Sri. Sunil Kumar Rana, President of West Bengal Cold Storage Association, and other prominent members like Sri. Subhajit Saha, Sri. Rajesh Kumar Bansal, Sri. Patit Paban De, Sri. Tarun Kanti Ghosh, and others.

Cold storage facilities play a pivotal role in preserving agricultural produce, particularly potatoes, crucial to the agrarian landscape of Bengal. However, the rent for these storage units, determined by the government, has failed to align with the rising costs associated with running them effectively.

The rent, recommended by an Expert Committee appointed by the government, falls significantly short of the actual expenses incurred by cold storage operators. As a result, the industry has been burdened with an accumulated loss of Rs 21.35/quintal until 2021. The widening gap between recommended amounts and approved rents has rendered many cold storage units financially unviable, leading them to be labeled as Non-Performing Assets (NPA) by banks.

Despite appeals for rent revisions with justifications and the Expert Committee’s recommendations in January 2023 for a revision to Rs 190/quintal & Rs 194/quintal for south Bengal & north Bengal respectively, the government has not revised cold storage rent since 2021. This has led to an under-recovery of Rs 9.95/quintal for the period from 2021 to 2022, exacerbating the financial strain on cold storage operators.

Sri. Sunil Kumar Rana, President of West Bengal Cold Storage Association, expressed deep regret over the situation, stating, “Despite knowing that cold storage rent in other states is in the range of Rs 230 to Rs 270 per quintal, we are compelled by Govt. order to operate our units for Rs 168 to Rs 172 per quintal. This way we have accepted a monetary loss of Rs 31.30/quintal and operated for the last two years.”

The pressing issue not only affects the economic viability of cold storage units but also hampers the modernization of facilities, depriving farmers and consumers of advanced preservation techniques. The association forewarns of a potential crisis in the rural economy unless immediate measures are taken to address the financial woes of the cold storage industry.

In conclusion, the West Bengal Cold Storage Association extends a plea for understanding, urging all concerned parties to recognize the gravity of the situation. The industry’s future hangs in the balance, and the inability to operate under the current rent structure may have severe consequences for both the industry and the broader agricultural landscape of Bengal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Click to Go Up
error: Content is protected !!