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Fresh Bengal ban jacks up potato prices in steel city

- Last supply on August 30 as traders rue depleting stocks & homemakers worry about kitchen budget

Potatoes are once again acting pricey in Jamshedpur, thanks to fresh restrictions imposed on supply of the tuber by the neighbouring Bengal government.

Prices of the ubiquitous vegetable, which was selling for Rs 38 a kg early August after the Bengal government first imposed the ban, had come down to Rs 25 a kg from August 23 onwards, giving relief to homemakers.

But the respite was only temporary, as prices suddenly went up from Monday.

Now, the ubiquitous vegetable is selling for Rs 34-35 a kg in steel city markets, a straight leap of Rs 10. The rates will further go up if supply is not resumed soon.

“Trucks will potato consignments are not being allowed to cross the Bengal border since August 30. This is because the neighbouring state has introduced fresh restrictions on supply. If there is a shortage of the vegetable, prices will naturally go up,” said Rajkumar Shah, a leading potato trader of Jamshedpur.

According to Shah, after initially completely banning transportation of potatoes to Jharkhand and other states in the first week of August, the Bengal government decided to ration supply.

It restricted 100 tonnes of potatoes for Jharkhand per day, 400 tonnes for Odisha and 200 tonnes to Assam.

“After the new sanctions, we brought the vegetable from Bengal through Baharagora and Chakulia and prices came down to Rs 24/25 a kg. But from August 30, supply was again stopped. As there is no buffer stock, vendors are charging more,” Shah added.

Jamshedpur needs 20 trucks of potatoes every day.

The fresh crisis has prompted the Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) president Suresh Sonthalia to mull writing to Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee once again.

“Last time, we had written to the Bengal chief minister, requesting her to lift the ban on potato supply to Jharkhand, especially to Jamshedpur. Thereafter, the trucks started coming to the city. Now, it seems that we will again have to take up the matter with her,” Sonthalia told The Telegraph.

Consumers, especially homemakers, are fuming.

“I was relieved when prices of potatoes came down to Rs 25 a kg. I had actually thought that it would further go down. But the price demon has come back to haunt us, playing havoc with our kitchen budget,” rued Nivedita Sinha, a resident of Contractors’ Area in Bistupur.


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