Bengal Cold Storage Owners May Go For Strike Over Unviable Rent Tariffs

West Bengal's cold storage owners consider striking over stagnant rent tariffs, threatening the 2024-25 potato season. Officials from the West Bengal Cold Storage Association are set to discuss potential strikes, citing years of government neglect in rent revisions.
Bengal Cold Storage Owners May Go For Strike Over Unviable Rent Tariffs

The operation of temperature-controlled warehouses for potatoes in West Bengal may be affected during the 2024-25 season as owners are mulling a strike due to unaddressed rent revisions.

The West Bengal Cold Storage Association officials said its members are likely to discuss the issue at a meeting on Monday.

Association officials cite the government's "neglect" of rent revisions for several years as the primary reason for this proposed drastic measure.

A total of 65 lakh tonnes of potatoes stored in the facilities across the state may perish if a strike is called. An estimated 110 lakh tonnes of tuber is expected to be produced this year.

"Despite repeated appeals and justified recommendations, the government has failed to address the widening gap between recommended and approved rents," said a Cold Storage Association official, declining to be quoted before the official outcome of the crucial meeting.

"This leads to substantial financial losses for operators, with cumulative losses exceeding Rs 31.30 per quintal over the past two years, severely hindering operational efficiency and modernisation efforts," the official told PTI.

Compared to the neighbouring states where rents range from Rs 230 to Rs 270 per quintal, West Bengal cold storage units operate at significantly lower rates of Rs 168 to Rs 172 per quintal.

Sources suggest a possible strike could be averted if the government revises the tariff to at least Rs 190-194 per quintal.

The association warns that inaction could irreparably damage the cold storage sector, exacerbate existing economic challenges, and jeopardise livelihoods in potato-growing districts like Hooghly, Burdwan, Bankura, and Medinipur.

Operators urge the government to intervene promptly to avert a crisis and safeguard the interests of all stakeholders.

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