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Humble potato turns retail rogue

The potato pinch has worsened in the city with vendors across markets arbitrarily jacking up prices in the absence of any monitoring system.

Although the neighbouring Bengal government is yet to lift curbs on supply of the tuber to Jharkhand, traders are illegally bringing in potatoes through the porous border and selling it at erratic prices fixed by them. So, on Sunday, while a kilo of the vegetable sold for Rs 35 at Sakchi market, the rate at Bistupur shops was as high as Rs 40.

Kadma vendors are also charging customers Rs 35 per kg of potatoes, while the markets in Golmuri, Sidhgora and Sonari have kept the price at Rs 40 a kg.

“This is really absurd. It’s really frustrating to know that while someone purchased potatoes for Rs 35 a kg from Sakchi, I got it at Rs 40 at Bistupur’s vegetable market,” said Sarabjit Singh, a resident of Bistupur.

Subhojit Sen of Kadma added: “The prices are fluctuating because the traders are bringing the potatoes from Bengal illegally. I got to know this while speaking to a potato vendor in Kadma this morning.”

Some traders admitted that they were procuring the tuber through back channels.

“Instead of West Midnapore, which is a major supply point of potatoes, we are getting our stocks from places like Purulia and Balrampur in small quantities via pick-up trucks instead of big trucks. As more distance has to be covered for ferrying the potatoes this way, the transportation cost is shooting up, leading to a consequent price hike,” said one of them.

Another trader, Bala Krishna, who has his potato godown at Sakchi, said they did not get any consignment from Bengal for the past five days. “Four truckloads of potatoes from West Midnapore are still stuck on the Bengal border. But some traders are bringing the vegetable from Bengal through alternative routes,” he added.

Secretary of Krishi Utpad Samiti, Parsudih, Ashok Kumar Sinha said no truck carrying potato entered their premises in the past three days. “We are keeping an eye on illegal supply as it causes revenue losses to us. Traders are supposed to pay one per cent tax to us,” Sinha said.


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