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Govt lifts potato export ban

Calcutta, Nov. 23: The state government today released nearly 10,000 tonnes of potatoes for sale in Odisha and Assam through traders, lifting the ban imposed on the crop’s export outside Bengal because of a price rise.

Government sources said around 5,000 tonnes of potatoes left for Odisha in 33 trucks and another 4,500 tonnes were despatched to Assam in 30 trucks today.

A few days ago, some potato traders had sent a notice to the government threatening to move court if the export ban was not lifted. The traders had said the ban violated Article 301 of the Constitution, which provides for freedom of trade through the territory of India.

“Around 3 lakh tonnes of potatoes will be exported in the next few weeks. Most of the consignments will go to Odisha and Assam, where there is an acute shortage of potatoes,” an official said.

He said the situation in the state’s markets had been “showing signs of improvement” and added: “Besides, the need to release stocks ahead of the new crop cannot be overlooked.”

The state’s cold storages have eight lakh tonnes of potatoes. As the intra-state consumption till the arrival of the new crop won’t cross five lakh tonnes, sources said the government had decided to release some of the stocks.

On Wednesday, Mamata Banerjee had said the government would send one lakh tonnes of potatoes to Odisha.