STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Siliguri, 15 November
The North Bengal development minister, Mr Gautam Deb, said the administration would take strict action against those black-marketing salt riding on a ‘rumour’ of shortage.
“There is no reason to panic. A section of the unscrupulous hoarders are responsible for the situation. Some political parties are also involved.
“The wholesalers have sufficient stocks. The administration would not brook such nuisance,” said Mr Deb.
He made the statement after meeting the administrative officials of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri district, the senior officials of the food and supplies department, senior police officials and the traders in Siliguri today. He further said a monitoring cell would be set up at North Bengal Development Department (NBDD) office tomorrow to monitor the prices.
“The cell will remain operational till 25 November and from 26 November, the cell will operate from Siliguri sub-divisional office and it will continue till 1 January next year,” he said.
Chief minister, Miss Mamata Banerjee is concerned too, he said. A grocer from Bikas Nagar at Salugara said he had sold a kg of salt for Rs 80.
The Siliguri Merchants’ Association president, Mr Om Prakash Agarwal appealed to the people not to panic.
Meanwhile, police, acting on a complaint, today unlocked a depot and recovered a huge stock of salt at Tinbatti in Jalpaiguri, in the Siliguri Metropolitan Police Commissionerate. Hundreds of people lined up there and bought salt for Rs 10 a kg.
A buyer was entitled to buy maximum three packets (3 kg) of salt. The price even spiraled to Rs 50 a kg in the area before police intervened.
Police stepped in when a homemaker, Mrs Mitali Mandal, was found having bought salt at higher prices.
“Last night, a grocer demanded Rs 50 for a packet,” she said.
A senior CPI leader from Jalpaiguri, Mr Pabitra Bhattacharya said salt was sold for Rs 80 a kg in the town in the morning.