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Trucks get Bengal signal

- Potato & onion prices shoot up in Dhubri

Dhubri, July 14: Trucks carrying potatoes and onions from Bengal, which were stranded in two inter-state checkgates, started moving towards Assam after 2pm today.

The Bengal government instructed the Cooch Behar district administration not to give clearance to the trucks to enter Assam on July 11, an official of Joraimore checkgate in Bengal said.

Nearly 250 trucks were stranded in Bengal at Barobhisa, Joraimore and Jorakata near Assam-Bengal inter-state checkgates at Chagolia and Srirampur of Dhubri and Kokrajhar districts for last couple of days owing to the non-clearance by transport and sales tax department of Bengal.

Anil Das, one of the retailers in Dhubri market, alleged that unscrupulous traders taking advantage of the situation shot up the prices of potatoes and onions in lower Assam in the wholesale markets. As a result, prices of these commodities went up to Rs 25 to 28 and Rs 35 to 40 per kg in retail markets in the past two days.

Stockists and hoarders, too, created an artificial scarcity in the market despite availability of buffer stock in the district for at least 15 days, a source said.

An official source in Dhubri said at the instance of Dispur, the matter was taken up today with the Cooch Behar district administration and then it agreed to give clearance to the trucks.

Dhubri deputy commissioner Kumud Chandra Kalita told The Telegraph that when he contacted the Cooch Behar administration, he learnt that transportation of potatoes and onions from Bengal was not only stopped for Assam but for the rest of the country too. “The matter was settled as the Cooch Behar administration agreed to allow the trucks to head towards their destinations today. In fact, as officials reported from Chagolia, trucks crossed the inter-state checkgate and entered Assam,” Kalita added.

However, truckers in Chagolia and Srirampur alleged that they were being allowed to transport the potatoes and onions after greasing the palms of the transport and sales tax officials at the checkgates.

“Through brokers, we pay Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 for each truck of potatoes and onions respectively to manage Bengal and Assam police and officials,” a trucker said.

State minister for food and civil supplies and consumer affairs Nazrul Islam today said at a high-level meeting, convened by chief minister Tarun Gogoi, that there was no shortage of onions or potatoes or any other essential commodity in the state.

Altogether 29 trucks reached the state yesterday. Onions are also scheduled to arrive from Nashik at Changsari railway station here tomorrow.


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