No lifting of ban on export of potato from state: WB govt

Kolkata: Even as the situation arising out of scarcity of potato in retail markets eased with the West Bengal government stepping into the supply of commodity, authorities today said the ban on export of the tuber to other states would continue.
"A permission has to be taken (by the traders from state government authorities) before transporting potato to other states," Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra told reporters after a meeting of the task force which was formed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to monitor prices of essential commodities.
"There is no difficulty. We are in contact with our counterparts in other states," he said.
"Nothing alarming", Mitra quipped when his attention was drawn towards rise in prices of fish, eggs and onions after protesters in Odisha blocked shipments these commodities from crossing into Bengal on Saturday last in reaction to the state government's decision to ban potato shipments to other states.
Stating that supply of potato in the city's retail markets from wholesale markets have "by and large normalised" he said, "There are some aberrations for which a sub-committee of the task force has been formed."
The secretary to the agriculture department, city police commissioner, the director general of police and those of the enforcement branch, besides representatives from potato traders would comprise the sub-committee, Mitra said.
The Chief Secretary said the government's earlier decision to clear cold storages by November 30 was today extended by another 15 days.
The state agriculture secretary Subrata Biswas said, "13.70 lakh tonne of potato are lying in cold storages and if they are not shipped to other states, the stocks would be enough for Bengal's consumption for another two months".
The demand for potato in West Bengal is estimated to be around 10,000-12,000 tonne a day.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had recently taken over temporary charge of the agriculture marketing ministry in view of the gravity of the situation and had set up an 11-member task force to monitor soaring prices and threatened police action against hoarders trying to jack up rates artificially.
Denying that potatoes supplied to the markets from the godowns were of inferior quality, Biswas said "The complaints in this regard are not valid".
After the abrupt rise of potato prices, the Chief Minister pegged the price of the tuber at Rs 13 a kg following which the commodity had vanished from the markets across Kolkata.
"We are trying," Mitra added when asked whether the state government was planning to control the prices of onion.