Clear potato stock before December 8: West Bengal government

Minister asks cold storages to curb prices after note ban.

Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee government on Tuesday set December-8 deadline for clearing the stock of potatoes in cold storages to curb its prices in the wake of difficulties people are facing due to the Centre’s demonetisation decision.

A few days back, the state government had set November 30 as the deadline for clearing the potato stock in cold storages. “Cold-storage owners, potato traders and farmers, everybody, are in an awkward situation due to the demonetisation. So we have decided to extend the deadline to December 8. Once the cold stores are emptied, they will not be opened before March 1,” state agri marketing minister Tapan Dasgupta said.

The minister on Tuesday held a meeting with cold storage owners’ associations and representatives of the Pragatisil Potato Traders Association. “After taking a stock of the situation, we have found that 8-lakh metric tonne of potatoes are still in the cold storages,” Mr. Dasgupta added.

At present, there are around 400 cold storages in the state.

Potato harvesting in Bengal takes place at the end of February and at the beginning of March. Hence, there is no need to store potatoes before March 1. “Our aim is to check illegal hoarding of potatoes and keep price under control,” he said.

On being questioned about the price of potato still on the higher side hovering around Rs 20 per kg in Kolkata market, the minister said the middlemen popularly known as ‘phore’ are responsible for the price rise.

“We will soon conduct surprise raids at the city markets. The state has produced 90 lakh metric tonnes of potato, which is 30 lakh excess of the requirement,” Mr Dasgupta said.

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