GUWAHATI, July 12 � The West Bengal government�s ban on selling potatoes to other States is likely to shoot up the potato prices in Assam with more than 100 truckloads of the perishable commodity stranded on the Assam-Bengal border for the past four days.
The traders in Assam have cried foul over this �undeclared ban� on the movement of potatoes in the Northeastern States and alleged that this unfair mechanism has turned into a money spinning tool for the West Bengal Police, which is charging Rs 20,000 per truck to allow the potato consignments across the border.
Last year also, a similar ban on the movement of some essential items to stabilise the rates in the neighbouring state upset the market conditions here. With rates of onion and potatoes already spiralling in the country this year, the ongoing ban is likely to affect the market more adversely, feel observers.
On the fourth day of the ban today, the State Supply Department took up the matter with the Deputy Commissioner, Dhubri for resolving the matter at the DC level.
�It is a very bad trend started by the neighbouring state�s police. No such ban on movement of essential commodities could be imposed anywhere in the country. If the matter is not resolved at the DC level, the State government would have to take it up formally with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee,� said sources in the Supply Department.
�The neighbouring state government is promoting corruption through this unconstitutional ban. Not only the produce of West Bengal, but potato consignments coming from Agra and Farrukhabad and several truckloads of onion are also intercepted by the police there,� Vinod Jain of the Guwahati Potato Onion Merchants� Association told The Assam Tribune.
�We have talked to the wholesale traders of other districts including Dibrugarh and Tinsukia, and have come to a consensus on not paying a single penny extra this time in order to discourage this illegal practice. The government must take concrete action to settle this problem conclusively,� he added.
The traders alleged that last year they paid Rs 100 per quintal of potatoes to get the consignments cross the West Bengal border, which increased their cost manifold. The wholesale rate of North Bengal potatoes in Guwahati market is Rs 1650 per quintal whereas the Agra and Farrukhabad produce is being sold at the rate of Rs 2200-2300 per quintal.