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Checkgate standoff raises price rise fear in Assam
Published on 17 May. 2010 11:54 PM IST
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The prices of essential commodities, especially that of perishable items like onions and potatoes, are likely to soar in Assam as the protest by the Chagolia Truck Owners’ Association against the offloading of goods from overloaded trucks continued.
Of the nearly 3,000 trucks stranded on both sides of the Chagolia inter-state checkgate, about 800 carrying onions, potatoes and other essentials like sugar, gram and biscuits are stranded on the Bengal side of the gate awaiting clearance to enter Assam.
What is more alarming is more than 500 trucks carrying 12,500 tonnes of potatoes and onions that are perishable items, remain stranded on a 30km stretch of a road from Boterhat of Assam to Tufanganj of north Bengal. A potato and onion wholesale dealer of Dhubri district said that they had not received any delivery for the last five days, but had stock for a couple of days.
“But if the truckers are not allowed to ply for another two days then there will be shortage of potatoes and onions and prices of the these two items may rise,” he said. Traders of Bongaigaon, Barpeta and Goalpara also expressed fear of price rise of potatoes and onions if the stalemate continued.
Bablu Khan, an onion and potato wholesale dealer of Barpeta Road, said that they had received supply of potatoes and onions from truckers coming through the Srirampur inter-state checkgate.
“There will be no immediate crisis of the potato or onion in the market as Srirampur is open. We have information nearly 15,000 tonnes of potatoes and onions are being ferried in trucks to various markets of Assam and the region. It is a huge consignment and if these trucks do not reach the markets in time there will certainly be a crisis,” Khan said. Sambhu Sarkar, a trucker coming from Jalpaiguri carrying potato to Agartala, said he had remained stranded here for the past four days and had to pay nearly Rs 1,000 a day for the five staff.
“Potato is essential but also perishable. Normally it takes six days to reach Agartala from Jalpaiguri. But we do not know in how many days we will able to reach Agartala, because no decision has been taken on the overloaded goods,” Sarkar added. Joginder Singh, a trucker coming from Hissar of Haryana carrying gram to Guwahati, said he had been stranded at the Chagolia gate for the past few days.
“We the truckers of other states were not aware of the Supreme Court’s order on overload. Had there been prior information about it (offloading of overloaded goods), we would have not overloaded goods,” Singh said.
There are four workers in his truck and it cost him much. Singh also fears delay in reaching the destinations.
Assam principal secretary of transport, Sumit Jarith, accompanied by high-level officials of finance and district-level officials visited Chagolia inter-state checkgate and took stock of the situation.
Officials interacted with the truckers’ union and local people and assured the aggrieved truckers of an early solution to the overload problems. Jarith also assured construction of a composite checkgate at Chagolia like the one at Srirampur inter-state checkgate at the earliest possible time.
Dhubri district transport officer Goutam Das said that till now no decision was taken on overloading, but high officials would sit today and hammer out some solution to this problem.

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