Bengal seeks self-sufficiency in potatoes, onions

Kolkata, Nov 6 : Warning of "strict action" against unreasonable hikes in prices of potatoes and onions, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday said her government was planning to set up fair price centres for distributing potato seeds.

The state could be made self-sufficient in vegetable produce, the chief minister said.

She stressed that potatoes be sold at Rs.13 per kg retail price, and Rs.11 per kg in the wholesale market. She asked members of the public not to purchase potatoes at higher rates.

"Those who are selling potatoes and onions at a higher price will have to face the music... they will have to compensate people they cheat. I know some individuals are manipulating the situation, and we will take strict action according to law," she told reporters here.

"We are going to establish fair price shops for indigenous potato seeds. Research is going on, and we hope this will reduce dependency on Punjab for potatoes," she said.

Emphasising self-sufficiency in onions and potatoes, Banerjee said until prices stabilise in West Bengal, the vegetable produce of the state will not be sold to other states.

"We will not be selling potatoes to Assam and Odisha until the situation stabilises in our state. How can I give away potatoes to other states when my own people are being deprived?" she asked.

Bannerjee also lashed out at the erstwhile Left Front regime for inaction in reducing the state's dependence on potato and onion imports from other states.

"For 35 years, they did nothing. This is the consequence," she said.

Moreover, to monitor the adherence of vendors to the prices, West Bengal Police, the city police's enforcement directorate, and members on the task force created by her government will keep vigil, the chief minister said.

"All lorries carrying potatoes will be escorted by police. We are taking steps to ensure the situation normalises by tomorrow (Thursday) morning."

--IANS (Posted on 06-11-2013)

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