Mic Members and Wholesalers spar over prices

STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Burdwan, 14 November
Three mayor-in-council (MIC) members and four councillors of the local civic body had to face the ire of Benachitty market wholesalers in Durgapur last evening when they had gone to take stock of the situation over the soaring potato prices.
The wholesalers got angry when the officials alleged they were selling potatoes at Rs 18 per kg. The wholesalers and retailers said the cold storage were charging Rs 15 per kg ~ Rs 2 more than the price fixed by the state.
Last Tuesday the district administration had provided 18 metric ton (MT) of seized potatoes to some wholesalers of Station Bazaar and Mamra market at Rs 11 per kg. The stock, however, was sold at Rs 17 to 19 per kg.
Durgapur SDM, Mrs Kasturi Sengupta, held a meeting with the Agri-marketing officials and task force representatives today to decide measures to stop wholesalers and retailers from "cheating people".
“We have asked the officials to intensify raids in markets and cold storages," she said.Today evening the task force raided a cold storage at Panagarh and seized 15 MT potatoes. Meanwhile, at Station Bazaar, 20 retailers stopped selling potatoes protesting arbitrary prices charged by cold storage. A retailer, Mr Sudip Chowdhury, alleged: “Local leaders are harassing us but they don’t check the cold storages.”
Police and task force officials later intervened and assured fair supply of potatoes from tomorrow.
The Sudder Alu Byabsayee Samiti ~ a forum of potato merchants in Burdwan town ~ had opened a camp near the district collectorate on 2 November to sell 6 MT potatoes everyday at Rs 13 per kg. Mr Sunil Saha, president of the samiti, said: “We will continue the camp as we still have 20 per cent of the total cold storage stocks reserved for the purpose.”
Burdwan and Hooghly are major potato growing districts in the state and yet several areas in Burdwan are suffering acute shortage of potatoes. Burdwan has been supplying 400 MT potatoes everyday to Kolkata since last Wednesday.
Mr Priodarshi Sen, assistant director, Agri-Marketing in Burdwan, said: “Burdwan requires an average 1,200 MT potatoes everyday. Since we have orders to provide 300 to 400 MT to Kolkata, the remaining areas in Burdwan don’t get potatoes.”
The officials provided 70 MT potatoes to Asansol in two phases after state Agriculture Minister Moloy Ghatak asked the officials for the same.
Meanwhile, Durgapur is left in the lurch and has to depend on potato-loaded lorries headed for Bihar and Jharkhand which are seized at Barakar check-post. “We don’t have an alternate option for Durgapur," Mr Sen said.