Kolkata, July 17 (IANS): The good old ‘thonga’ or ‘thongey’ newspaper is back in full force, thanks to the ban on single-use plastic (SUP) but shopkeepers are complaining, even as ‘kabadi walas’ reselling old newspapers to manufacturers of packets are all smiles. Over the past fortnight, the price of such packages has increased by more than 40% in Kolkata and suburbs.
“We used to buy newspaper packs for Rs 35 per kilogram until June 30. This has now changed to Rs 50. It is now proving more expensive than the SUP bags we used to use before. Another option is to provide plastic bags which are made of thicker material. They are also expensive. Customers are still unwilling to pay 2-3 rupees for such bags and demand them for free,” said a shop owner in Bhowanipore.
He maintained that he earns a profit of only Rs 5-6 by selling a dozen eggs. Of this, 50 to 60 paise is lost for the bundle of newspapers. Another Rs 2 for a bag would see his profit drop to less than Rs 3, he reasons.
“As always, it is the small shopkeeper who suffers. The big grocery stores make a profit of Rs 100-150 on each customer and gladly give away bags worth Rs 5. These same customers expect the same from us when “they buy items from We are expected to give away a bag worth Rs 3 for a profit of Rs 20. There needs to be awareness in all sections of society,” said Shyamal Sarkar, a trader in Gariahat.
“Thonga” makers say they were forced to raise prices after the used newspapers they use became more expensive. Previously, they bought newspapers at Rs 10 per kilogram. Now it is Rs 14-15 per kg. Most of these packages are made by women in marginalized households. Besides labor, there are other expenses involved like gum and hardboard for backing. At best, each household can produce 3-4 kg of packets per day. This means a gain of around Rs 100-120 for their effort.
“We have to buy the newspapers in bulk. Not all of them are usable. Many have stains, some are torn and soggy. Wastage is almost 20%. It becomes more difficult during monsoons when the material is wet. C “It’s hard work to make these packets and all we get is around 100 rupees a day. We don’t distribute the packets to shops. There are people who collect them from us. They also make a profit.” , Sunita, a housewife from Baguihati said.