The unimaginable has happened! The unprecedented nationwide lockdown due to coronavirus threat has resulted in vanishing of ubiquitous rosogolla, sondesh and mishit doi (sweet curd) from the platters of the sweet-toothed Bengalis.
But they are not the only ones feeling bitter. The sweet shop owners, who are staring at huge losses, have urged the state authorities to grant them permission to run their businesses, even if not at full throttle. They say the milk procured by them is getting wasted and their employees being rendered jobless.
Milkmen, who have signed annual contracts with shop owners, are at a loss trying to figure out what to do with the produce in the absence of proper distribution channels, said a member of a sweet makers’ association.
“A few have been able to supply milk to the shops, while others have been citing transport curbs as the reason for not being able to deliver. Either way, shop owners are paying up, but the milk is going down the drain for lack of any plan to put them to good use,” said Dhiman Chandra Das, a member of Paschim Bango Mistanna Byabosayee Samity, a sweet makers’ body.
Chandra assured if they are allowed to run shops, the owners would abide by all safety precautions.
“We are aware of the dangers of the pandemic. We understand the necessity of the lockdown. But we have been urging the authorities to find a solution so that the huge quantity of milk bought by sweet shops doesn’t go waste. We had requested the food processing department, too, to look at the matter, but there has been no response,” Das complained.
Arun Dey, the owner of a popular shop in Hooghly district, said sweet makers account for more than 60 per cent of the milk that is bought in a day. “As of now, we have asked our milkman not to deliver. We can only hope that once the lockdown is lifted, we will be able to run our business as usual,” he said.
Another shop owner in Ballygunge area said sweets and other dairy products worth ₹90,000 got wasted in her store after the lockdown was imposed. “We want the government to open a window for us. We know there is a major crisis. But we hope things will get better,” she said.
Das said at least one lakh sweet shops across Bengal were reeling under losses. “I am not saying that we should be allowed to make and sell our regular products. But if curd and certain other dairy items could be added to the list of essentials, it would be of immense help to the shop owners, their employees as well as the milkmen,” he added.
(With inputs from agencies)