CM Mamata Banerjee concerned about the depletion of the Bengal government’s potato and onion stocks
With onions and potatoes still selling for twice their normal price, the dwindling stocks in government freezers has become a concern for the Mamata Banerjee administration, which is preparing for the crucial elections. of the 2021 assembly.
When prices soared, the state government was providing onions and potatoes at half the market price to consumers in their own stores. But that stock is expected to last only through December.
“The prices of potatoes and onions are going up. From now on we are providing them at reasonable prices from our stock. But that will last only until December. I don’t know what will happen after that. I wrote a letter to the prime minister, ”said Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal’s chief minister, speaking at a management meeting earlier this week.
In February this year, the state government had planned to buy around one million tons of potatoes from farmers. However, the government was able to buy only about 42,000 tons of potatoes before the shutdown began.
“At a time when potatoes are sold on the local market for Rs 45 / kg, the government sells them for Rs 25 / kg at 630 outlets. The action will not last long, ”said a senior state government official.
Although experts are hopeful that potato and onion prices will drop once fresh supplies hit the market in the winter, the government seems concerned and has asked all cold storage units to sell off their stocks sooner. November 30.
“This will prevent any kind of hoarding and provide some relief before new winter supplies hit the market. The main concern is that if there is a shortage of supply that results in a price increase, the opposition will have the opportunity to attack the government before the elections, ”said a TMC leader.
Banerjee had previously sent a letter to Modi urging the prime minister to control the prices of potatoes and onions or allow the state to do so. Parliament passed the 2020 Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill in September to deregulate commodities such as grains, legumes, oilseeds, edible oils, onions and potatoes.
“Winter vegetables are being harvested. We expect prices to drop once fresh supplies hit the market in the winter. The prices of some vegetables like cauliflower and eggplant have already dropped. Onion and potato prices are also expected to fall, ”said Rabindranath Kole, a member of the government task force.
West Bengal needs around 6 million tonnes of potatoes and around 8 lakhs of onions. While most of the potato crop is grown in various districts of South Bengal, 80% of the onions come from Maharashtra and other southern states of India.