BALASORE: The West Bengal Government will impose restriction on potato supply to neighbouring States again from Sunday in wake of a three-day strike called by its potato traders.
The Bengal Government has also decided to install close circuit TV cameras (CCTVs) in border areas and toll gates to check illegal movement of potato laden trucks to Odisha and other States. Earlier, hundreds of potato trucks managed to find an alternative route to enter Odisha through Jamsola gate after the West Bengal cops detained them on Laxmannath route. The ban was effected after potato traders in West Bengal failed to comply the demand of delivering 300 tonnes of potatoes to their Government at a price of Rs 1,200 per quintal, which would be sold at subsidised rate through fair price shops.
Sources said at the meeting on August 25, attended by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Agriculture Marketing Minister Arup Roy, task force committee members and Progressive Potato Traders Association (PPTA), it was decided that the potato traders would send a total 700 tonnes of the tuber to Odisha, Jharkhand and Assam, besides 300 tonnes to Bengal at the price of Rs 12 a kg daily.
A leader of PPTA, Baren Mandal, said the West Bengal Government has been forcing them to send only 700 tonnes of potato when the demand is much more. “It is not possible to supply 300 tonnes of potato at Rs 12 a kg as it would affect more than 400 traders in our State. In protest against the decision and police excess on traders we have decided to resort to the three-day strike,” he said.
Local traders alleged that despite the decision of supplying 400 tonnes of potato per day to Odisha, the West Bengal Government stopped sending potatoes from Friday. Not a single potato truck has passed through Laxmannath gate for the last couple of days, while only 27 trucks entered through Jamsola gate.
District Perishable Goods Association president, Ajay Kumar Biswal said though the crisis may not be felt immediately as the State has a stock of over 20,000 tonnes of potato, but the price is likely to increase after a couple of days if the flow is not streamlined thereafter.