Substandard potatoes coloured by synthetic colours and filled with clay have flooded vegetable markets of Berhampur.
With prices of most vegetables skyrocketing, vendors are finding it convenient to sell these potatoes which are priced at lowest Rs 14 a kg.
Sources said the potatoes, which are of poor quality and slightly rotten, are procured from neighbouring West Bengal at cheap rate. To hide the unhealthy pigmentation of these potatoes, very fine clay called ‘Ela Mitti’ and most of the time even cheap synthetic colours are used. Even deep holes in these potatoes are filled with clay.
Allegations regarding sale of such potatoes in the market are made every year. In February this year, Sub-Collector Bijay Kumar Das had directed potato traders to completely stop sale of the potatoes coloured by synthetic colours and filled with clay or face action. A special squad was also formed to check the sale of potatoes, but lack of monitoring and follow up action by the officials led the vendors to again sell these potatoes.
Ananta Moharana, a local, said in a kg of potato one can find around 150 grams of colour and clay. “Unless the potatoes are cleaned properly, the clay and synthetic colour remains and this can prove very dangerous for consumers’ health. We have no option because these potatoes are available every where,” he said.
Meanwhile, prices of other vegetables have gone over the roof. While tomatoes are selling at Rs 50 a kg, brinjals cost Rs 40 per kg and a kg of carrots are sold at Rs 50. Okra and onions are slightly cheaper at Rs 35 per kg.