Despite Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s warning to potato traders and her capping the price at Rs 14 per kg, the vegetable is still being sold at Rs 20-24.
The state government officials as well as members of the task force, however, claimed on Saturday that the price will come down within a day or two.
The officials, meanwhile, reported having intercepted at state borders a large number of trucks that were sent back to the godowns.
In a meeting with the task force, Tarak Singh, mayor-in-council (market), Saturday reviewed the situation, and then said the demand for the low-priced potatoes is lot more than what is being currently supplied by the state government.
“The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) trucks come and sell 13-14 sacks of potatoes outside the market and leave. Jyoti and Chandramukhi varieties of the potato are priced at Rs 20 and 22 per kg, respectively,” said Bimal Kumar Banik, secretary, North Kolkata Retail Dealers’ Association.
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Park Circus market is undergoing a similar crisis. A member of the market’s Babsayee Samity puts the calculation as this: “We paid Rs 850 for a 50 kg sack (of potato) today and another Rs 10 for carriage. After we take out the rotten ones (from the sack), the final cost stands at nearly Rs 18 per kg. How can they expect us to sell potato at Rs 14?”
He also said that the production of potato this year has been quite good and farmers got Rs 7-9 per kg for their produce. “At the cold storage, too, potatoes were sold between Rs 10.5 and 11 a kg. The state should look into how the price goes up to Rs 18 when the vegetable reaches the market. Checking the retailers alone will not help,” the member said.
Authorities, however, say the situation will soon come under control. “The measures have just been implemented and hopefully from tomorrow (Sunday), they will have some impact,” said Rabindranath Koley, a member of the task force.
Tarak Singh said that the KMC, other than supplying it to retailers at markets, were also selling it out of six different points in the city. “We are now seeking help from various self-help groups for an even smoother distribution and sale of potatoes and within a day or two, the situation will be under control.”
Potato dealers, meanwhile, said the steps taken by the government will adversely affect the market. “Banning the sale of potatoes to other states would not serve the purpose because they would, in return, stop sending other commodities to our state, raising the price of those commodities here,” said Baren Mondal. member, West Bengal Progressive Businessmen Association.