The stench of rotten onions has been spread through the air in Hili land port area in Dinajpur as truckloads of the vegetable have been stuck on the Indian side the border for days waiting to enter Bangladesh.
According to the local businessmen, there are still about 6,000 tonnes of onions in about 200 trucks stuck there.
Abdur Rahman Liton, general secretary of the Hili Land Port C&F Association, said, "The traders notified that about 200 trucks full of onions have been stranded across the border so far. Talks are being held with the traders on the other side to get all the trucks into the country."
Sources said the onions of those trucks are being stored in warehouses on the other side.
The local traders fear that the Indian authorities might supply those rotting onions to markets here in Bangladesh and they might have no choice but to sell rotten onions to the people.
Earlier, onions worth Tk50 lakh that had entered in the country through the border also got rotten out because of excessive heat and being tucked into confined sacks for a long time as Indian traders delayed to release those products into Bangladesh.
Harun-ur-Rashid, president of Hili Land Port Import-Export Group and C&F agent, said, "About 200 trucks loaded with onions are stuck on the other side of India. However, since yesterday (Sunday) the onions of those trucks are being unloaded from the trucks and are being stored in warehouses."
"I have come to know that those onions have started to rot. In the meantime, if India allows exports, then we have to take those rotten onions."
Traders said the onions that are still good are also being rotted as time goes by.
Mahbub Alam, an assistant to a clearing and forwarding agent, said, "The quality of most of the onions has deteriorated as they have been kept loaded on trucks for several days."
Traders complained there is no compensation for the losses that they have suffered due to the unexpected export halt and the rotten onions.
They have demanded that the authorities concerned take note and do not let such an incident happen in the future.
According to the port sources, India has stopped sending onions to Bangladesh from September 14 on the pretext of crisis in the domestic market and rising prices. As soon as the import from India stopped, the prices of onion jumped.
The wholesale price of onions jumped from Tk35-40 per kilogram to Tk65-70. And the prices jumped in the retail market at Tk80-90 per kilogram.
Besides the Indian ones, the prices of local varieties of onions also went up. These onions have been sold at Tk90-100 per kg in the domestic market.
Meanwhile, last Friday, the Indian government allowed trucks full of onions to enter Bangladesh after the tender process was completed. As a result, 245 tonnes of onions were imported in 11 trucks on Saturday afternoon after five days.
Around two lakh tonnes of onions are imported through Hili land port every year.