The sound of the constantly running engine is a give-away for sugarcane juice shops that dot the city. In addition to the juicer, all that they use is lime, ginger, ice and disposable cups.

The cost of this juice, which the common man depends on to cool off in the heat, has spiralled over the last few years. R. Francis, a sugarcane vendor on 11{+t}{+h} Avenue in Ashok Nagar said that a few years ago, a cup of juice cost Rs.4, while it is Rs.10 now.

“The price of 10 bundles of cane, which is the amount I need for two days, has increased from Rs.400 to Rs.750. Ice, which was Rs.10 now costs Rs.25. I have to increase the price of juice accordingly,” he said.

K. Mani, a vendor in Adyar, said that added to this was the increase in the rate of disposable cups and the price of kerosene, which he buys from nearby. “Kerosene costs Rs.40 a litre and I need three litres every day. The government must provide us with subsidised kerosene like they give diesel to fishermen. That will help us cut the cost of sugarcane juice,” he said.

Fruits dearer

Apart from sugarcane juice, another thirst quencher that many people opt for is fruit juice that is artificially flavoured. E. Kuppusamy, an autorickshaw driver of Maduvankarai, said he rarely has fruit juice as he cannot afford to do so on a regular basis. “I know that the fruit juice has artificial substances. But it is better than bottled drinks.”

B.Saravanan, a fruit juice seller in Kodambakkam, said that the rates of even such juices had gone up in the past one year.

“The rates of sugar and fruits have increased. Real fruit pieces are mixed with the sugar and essences… otherwise people will not consume them.”

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Deepa H. RamakrishnanJune 28, 2012