After more than a year of sending out vending vans to sell pulses, vegetables, meat and the like, the government authorities have set up a retail store in CA Block, a stone’s throw away from the market. The store also has a kitchen counter to serve snacks.
Named Nature Bazar, the shop is in the lane facing the Mother Dairy booth outside CA Market. It is being operated by the state Comprehensive Area Development Corporation (CADC), under the panchayats and rural development department and was inaugurated by minister Subrata Mukherjee on June 8.
“With the vans, we have been able to take the market to people’s doorsteps across Salt Lake and New Town. People lower bags from the first floor balconies and pick up vegetables from the vans without having to step out. This store format will surely be beneficial too,” Mukerjee said.
The store will open to public on June 16 after the lockdown and for starters, timings will be 8am to noon and 4 to 8pm. “But after the pandemic we will be open 9 to 9,” said Soumyajit Das, special secretary to the department and administrative secretary of the CADC.
The store has various varieties of rice like Fine Baskati, Tulaipanji, brown rice as well as pulses, mustard and refined oil, spices, ghee and honey. Fruits and vegetables are sourced directly from farmers — Himsagar mangoes from Ayodhya Hills, watermelons from Sonamukhi, onions from Sukhsagar etc.
“No chemicals are used in growing these. We use neem oil and cow urine as pesticide and vermicompost for fertilisers. So they are much healthier than chemical vegetables that look shiny and appetising but lack in nutritional value,” explained Das.
Chicken will be available in curry cuts, lollypop, wings and boneless options and the dark-tinged Kadaknath chicken, said to be rich in iron content, will be available too. In fact, they are selling it at Rs 175 for 500g — at a discount of Rs 100. Parse fish will cost Rs 250 for 500g, chicken Rs 95 for 500g and a litre of mustard oil Rs 170. Authorities claim prices of fruits and vegetables will not fluctuate on a daily basis as in markets.
Besides fish and mutton, they will stock lamb, crab, duck and fish like mourola which will be cleaned and made available in ready-to-cook vacuum packs that can be used up to three weeks later.
“These products are also available in our vans but they cannot stay at a point all day so one can miss them,” said Das.
The authorities are also betting big on the kitchen counter. “Two schools — Salt Lake School and Haryiana Vidya Mandir — are within walking distance from this outlet. They have a combined strength of some 7,000 students, not to mention the guardians who accompany them. When this population returns to campus after the pandemic, they shall have a new outlet to eat in,” said Das.
The kitchen has an induction cooker, fryer and OTG so expect Fish Finger, Egg Devil and kebabs. The department already runs a home delivery outlet from its head office in DD Block’s Mrittika Bhawan and some of the staff there will look after this CA Block counter too.
There isn’t space to sit and eat but a foldable table-top pulls out of a wall for diners to rest their plates and eat.
Local ward co-ordinator Rajesh Chirimar encouraged the outlet. “This store will provide healthy competition to vendors of CA Market. Prices will be competitive, quality will improve and the ultimate winner will be consumers,” he said.
CA 204, where the shop has come up, happens to be the residence of the secretary of the CA Block association, Jibadip Bhadury. “This space used to be a tea shop and after they wound up I felt this would be a good idea. People have faith in products that have the government’s stamp on it,” he said.