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Wait, potato relief on way

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 12: The state will require at least two days to overcome potato shortage as the tuber brought through the National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation of India Limited (Nafed) is not expected to reach here before Thursday.

The food and supply department has been forced to procure potatoes through Nafed with the Bengal government not showing any sign of withdrawing its undeclared ban on its supply to Odisha.

People here are apprehensive that potato may not be available in the market after a few days.

However, both the state government and traders have sought to assure consumers that there was no reason for panic.

The state government has been providing potato through its fair price shops at reasonable rates while the traders are now depending on the few truckloads coming to the city through other routes.

“We have heard that very few truckloads of potatoes are coming to the state. So, we are planning to purchase it in bulk,” said Tapas Panda, a resident of Baramunda.

Madhusudan Padhee, secretary of the food and supply department, said potato bought through Nafed would reach the state on Thursday. “We have ordered 3,040 quintals of potatoes and Nafed would procure it from Kanpur. Once it comes to the market, the situation will become normal,” said Padhee.

The Bengal government has not lifted its undeclared ban on supply of potato to Odisha despite traders in the neighbouring state staging protests against the government’s decision.

Food and civil supplies minister Sanjay Das Burma today met the chief minister and informed him about the situation. He said 80 trucks of potatoes have arrived in the state during the last 24 hours.

“We have enough stock in the state for now. The department has been procuring the tuber from there and providing it at Rs 20 a kg to people at fair prices centres. This will continue until the potato shortage ends,” said Das Burma.

He said the government had been trying to create pressure on the Bengal government to review its decision. Besides, the traders there have been protesting against their government’s stand because they are incurring huge losses. The traders in Bhubaneswar said the state government should try to make it a national issue and raise the matter in Parliament.

Sudhakar Panda, secretary of the Odisha Byabasayee Mahasangha, said the situation was not normal in the state with the Bengal ban continuing.

“Today, there is a special task force committee meeting in Bengal regarding the ban on potato supply. As the traders there are protesting, the Bengal government’s task force is going to take a decision in this regard. We are waiting for the decision of the meeting,” said Panda.

He added that while just four trucks of potatoes had reached Bhubaneswar yesterday, 14 trucks arrived today. Besides, around 70 trucks of potatoes have reached different parts of the state. As the Bengal police have been guarding the Laxmannath check gate on NH-60, these vehicles have come to Odisha through Jharkhand and other check gates on the border.

“The state has enough potatoes for now and we request people not to panic and indulge in huge purchases. The situation will be normal and people should refrain from bulk purchase as it will have an adverse effect on the market,” he said.