Smuggled Chinese apples
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Smuggled Chinese apples flood West Bengal fruit markets
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Smuggled Chinese apples flood West Bengal fruit markets

tanki (Siliguri), May 22 (ANIHaving nearly overtaken various Indian items in the electrical market, brand China is now making its foray into the Indian apple market via an illegal route.

By Pallav Basu

Panitanki (Siliguri), May 22 : Having nearly overtaken various Indian items in the electrical market, brand China is now making its foray into the Indian apple market via an illegal route.

Sourced illegally through neighbouring Nepal, the relatively low-priced Chinese apples have become a big hit in West Bengal's fruit markets.

A visit to places like Panitanki, a sleepy town that borders Nepal, reveals how huge is the impact of the smuggled Chinese apples which has literally replaced the delicious Indian apples from local fruit stalls here.

Tender and juicy, the Chinese apples come at a cheap price, which has led to its big demand among the local customers here.

It is unthinkable, if such a big supply of illegal apples could reach markets without connivance of local officials and residents.

Small vendors claim innocence about the origin of Chinese branded apples whereas the big traders do not wish to discuss such an issue and simply refuse to talk.

"I do not know where the apples come from, I just buy them from other shops...," said Chini Ghosh, a vendor.

In the months of February and March, customs officials in northern West Bengal confiscated 2,515 tonnes of Chinese apples worth 216,748 dollars. The apple stock was captured while it was being illegally imported.

Traders say the lack of strict surveillance on the coming of the Chinese apples has affected the Indian apple market here.

"Apple traders in the market are facing grave problems. There is unfair competition from Chinese apples that come through an illegal route. Because they come for cheap, the sale of Indian apples has dipped to near zilch. If this goes on, we will face huge losses," said Tapan Saha, President of the Siliguri Regulated Fruit Market Association.

Chinese apple dealers favour places like Panitanki and surrounding areas due to their proximity to Nepal, through which stocks are routed to Siliguri.

Apart from being a huge market itself, stocks can easily be transported from Siliguri to the rest of the country.

Trade ties between the trans-Himalayan Asian giants has grown multifold to cross 25 billion dollars for the first time in 2006.

India has been swamped with Chinese electronic goods and toys while India's export basket is mainly iron ore, farm produce and traditional goods.


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