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Trader In Mullickbazar Makes Around Rs 1.5-2 Lakh A Day

Updated: December 11, 2010 1:24 pm

Rahamat Ali, a 25-year-old graduate from Prashanta Chandra Mahalanabish College, is a wholesale kabariwallah (scrap dealer) at Mullickbazar in Kolkata, which is known as one of the famous scrap markets in India. Initially he joined the trade casually but later on when profits started to pour in, he stuck on. He said, “I will continue my business in scrap metal as I earn more than what I might earn in a white collar job.” He deals with scrap worth lakhs everyday.

                Who does not know the name of Mayapuri scrap market? This is Asia’s largest scrap market that gets scrap from all over the world especially from China. Hearing about scrap market, the first idea that comes to mind is about a tricky business that maintains a good understanding with the policemen and local political middlemen and a favourite outlet for criminals wanting to launder money or sell anything metallic and valuable. Is that so?

                Though the global scrap market has been cynosure of everybody eyes in the last couple of months due to financial instability in the different parts of the developed world, the Indian scenario is better due to higher demand of steel. With the massive investments in the infrastructure sector, the demand for scrap metals has increased substantially in the last few years.

                The rate of import of scrap in India is declining as the production of iron ore is increasing. A few years ago, 10 million tonnes of scrap were imported to India. Of late, it has come down to 4 million. According to Pradeep Goel, VC and MD, RKG International Private Limited: “Scrap is being replaced by direct reduced iron—commonly known as sponge iron, which is engaged in imports and international trading of an incredible range of products that encompass scraps, rollings, defectives, stock-lots of all kinds of steel and alloy.

                According to a Kolkata-based business development manager, “There are a lot of people involved in the ferrous metal scrap industry. It is difficult to give an estimate of the spread, turnover and people involved in it. Around 7-10 million tonnes is imported while the domestic scrap market provides around 2-3 million tonnes.” The United States is a major exporter of ferrous and non-ferrous scraps to India.

                Mullickbazar in Central Kolkata, deals in scraps, old and new motor parts, is also known as ‘chor bazzar’ (a market dealing in stolen goods). “Do not leave your vehicle parked here for too long or you will come back to just a frame,” warned an old local resident. The area is dirty and local people belong to minority community. From the British period, the bazaar was developed where antiques were sold and purchased. It took the form of a metal scrap market in the past few decades.

                The scrap dealers buy scrap metals and sell them to the distributors at Belur in Howrah district. The scraps are segregated into various categories there. These scraps cater to the demand of various buyers starting from jute mills to a common man coming from neighbouring states also. There are eight major traders at Mullickbazar. Around four to five people work under each of them. They were unwilling to divulge the money made per day. There are scrap markets in Kankurganchi, Bagmari and BT Road in Kolkata but the speciality of Mullickbazar is that the traders here make around Rs 1.5-2 lakh per day.

                When asked about how much of the transaction was illegal, one of the traders said: “Now a days, the police have become very stringent and no one is interested to buy second-hand cars or accessories without valid papers.” Though there were still some illegal transactions going on, he stated. He was grim about the present scenario of the market as there has not been much progress recently and the import from China had affected the market.

                The market has a lot of potential as a worker claimed, “From spark plugs, horns, car seats to the chassis of buses and trucks, everything is available here.” There is a common fact known to the Kolkatans that before buying a car visit Mullickbazar for shops that offer common car accessories at reasonable rates after a bargain.

                Panditiya Road in South Kolkata is another place, where Loha Patti Babsahiyi Samiti sells all kind of old building metals. There is about 20-25 workers. The daily business transaction is about Rs 10,000, one of the workers informed. Mohd Seikh, a trader said, “We generally have bad business in the rainy season. Otherwise, the market is fine.” All sorts of gutter rod, grid angle and old building metals are sold here. A number of agents of the traders go to the houses, offices and other buildings in the city and the sub-urban areas to collect the scraps.

                Major steel companies like Tata Steel, Steel Authority of India and Essar petitioned to the government to ban the import of scrap steel as it would cut the domestic demand for production.

                While the illegal aspect of the scrap market hogs the headlines, there is some usefulness of it. Using scrap is good for the environment as depletion of the natural resources can be controlled. The greatest environmental benefit from using scrap, instead of virgin ore, is the reduction in greenhouse emissions. The mining industry saves energy by using recycled metals.

    Metal                    Energy Saving

Aluminum          95 per cent

Copper                 85 per cent

Zinc                        63 per cent

Lead                      60 per cent

                The metal scrap industry is currently volatile in nature due to big players like Turkey and China ruling the market. There is a marginal difference between global and Indian prices of scrap metals. If one of the attractions of ferrous and non-ferrous scrap is energy saving, then the current price levels of scrap make it more attractive. With silver and gold prices, creating new records everyday, the metals that are recovered at almost free of cost from old electric scrap, electronic equipment including computers, military equipment and, of course, jewellery, seems shinning in the upcoming days and so that of the traders at Mullickbazar.

By Samarpita Roy from Kolkata

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