Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar/ Kolkata, Aug 11:
While the Odisha government feigns ignorance over the reasons why the West Bengal government has imposed curbs on the supply of potato to the state, reports in the media have made it amply clear that it is part of a deliberate move to ensure consumers in Bengal get potato at a cheaper price.
Seizure of potato laden trucks bound for other states continued all over West Bengal for the second consecutive day on Monday following clear instructions from the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is ‘keen to protect the interests of the consumers’ in her own state.
The West Bengal Agriculture minister Purnendu Bose told media persons in Kolkata that the move was not because any kind of animosity towards any state but was designed to ensure the buyers in the state did not suffer on account of hoarding and sudden rise of prices of potato.
Bose said 119 trucks of potatoes were seized yesterday and the entire stock was stored in godowns at Milan Mela complex, Ultadanga and Hastings and also that a ceiling has been set for potato stock in both wholesale and retail markets to prevent its hoarding.
“The state administration has arranged to sell the seized potato (Jyoti variety) at Rs 12 per kg to the retailers who will sell them at Rs 14 per kg in local markets,” the minsiter was quoted as saying.
The Bengal government’s move has been opposed by the pro-Left Progressive Potato Traders’ Association (PPTA) and the state unit of the BJP.
A day-long strike called by the PPTA did not have any impact, the minister claimed. BJP had yesterday flayed the policy of the state government saying it would in turn trigger rise in prices of vegetables, fish and other essential items.
The president of the West Bengal unit of the BJP Rahul Sinha has decried the curbs imposed on export of potato saying the affected neighbouring states could take retaliatory action and stop exporting vegetables, egg, onions, fish and essential items to Bengal.
The Bengal Agriculture minister, however, dismissed the possibility and said a large number of trucks of fish, egg and vegetables had come into the state from Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand.
“After the potato price stabilised, these states will also get supply of potato from our state. After all we are neighbours and there is no scope of enmity,” he said.
Meanwhile, BYJD, the youth wing of the ruling BJD in Odisha detained a large number of Bengal-bound truck carrying essential commodities at Sankarpur in Keonjhar district on the Kolkata-Mumbai National Highway 49 on Monday.
However, other vehicles, which were not carrying food items, were allowed to proceed to West Bengal.
(with inputs from agency reports)