West Bengal Cold Storage Association on Monday demanded that the State government should increase rental charges for storage of potatoes immediately, stating that cold storage operators are incurring substantial losses as the government has not revised rents for the last two years.

According to the officials of the association, a government appointed expert committee had recommended increasing the rental charges in early 2023, considering the rate of increment for the various input costs, repair and maintenance of machinery, and labour costs for cold storages. However, the government has not so far took any decision on it, forcing the cold storage business to be a “sick industry”.

“The expert committee had commended ₹190 and ₹194 per quintal for south and north Bengal, respectively. But still, no decision has been taken by the government to revise the the current rates. We are very aggrieved. We are demanding that the government should revise the rates as per the recommendations immediately,” West Bengal Cold Storage Association senior official Patit Paban De told businessline.

Currently, cold storages are operating at rental charges between ₹168 to ₹172 per quintal. The government has not revised cold storage rent since 2021.

“Our members are informing us about their inability to run the storages at these rates. Many operators have already surrendered their licenses. Around 50 operators have closed down their cold storages in the last two years. There were many distress sales. Many units have been classified as NPAs by banks. We are very worried,” De said.

“If the government does not inform us about the revision of the rental charges by February 20, we would have to call a general meeting to take a final decision,” he added.

In West Bengal, players in the cold storage business derive a high portion of their revenue from rental of potato storage. Currently, there are 460 cold storages across the state for the storage of potatoes with the total capacity of around 73 lakh tonnes.