Kolkata: Concerned with steep hike in prices of vegetables in the state, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today imposed a ban on the export of vegetables and potato to other states.
"Transportation of vegetables from West Bengal to other states will not be allowed until prices return to a comfortable level," Banerjee told reporters after reviewing the situation at a meeting of the task force on the issue.
The meeting was also attended, among others, by city Police Commissioner Surojit Kar Purokayastha and Director General of Police G M P Reddy, besides secretaries and senior officials of related departments.
"Some unscrupulous traders are increasing prices of vegetables and fish at their own will, giving an excuse of flood and rains. I won`t tolerate this any more. Stern steps will be taken immediately," the Chief Minister said.
Banerjee further said she had directed the police, enforcement branch and her entire administration to keep tab on the prices of vegetables and against their transportation to other states and on hoarding to create artificial crisis.
"Stop hoarding of vegetables, potato and onion at any cost and take stern action against unscrupulous traders who are involved in creating artificial crisis," Banerjee said, while directing the officials.
The Chief Minister also announced the price of potato (Jyoti variety) at Rs 11 in wholesale markets and Rs 13 in retail markets.
"If this price is not maintained, traders will have to face the music. FIR will be lodged immediately and drive against price hike and hoarding will continue," she cautioned.
Stating that onion prices were high due to poor yield, Banerjee said steps were taken to boost onion cultivation in the state to meet its requirement of five lakh tonnes.
"The state has a supply of three lakh tonnes of onion against its demand of five lakh tonnes. We are taking steps to boost onion production by about six lakh tonnes," she said, adding, the state has to import two lakh tonnes of onion from other states to meet its growing requirement.
The state government was already selling onion at Rs 36 per kg from various places including districts to cope with the situation, she said.
Besides, farming of fish would also be increased in the state to meet the demands and nearly 350 waterbodies had already been brought under this scheme, she said.
Banerjee said the state government was also taking steps to improve cultivation of herbal and medicinal plants and boost their export.
Besides, 5,000 Mother Dairy kiosks would also be opened across the state, she added.