Task force teams raid markets across West Bengal to ‘lower agricultural commodity prices’

Following CM Banerjee’s directives to bring agri prices under control, the task force members also examined the accuracy of sellers’ weighing machines and imposed spot fines if discrepancies were found

Published - July 11, 2024 01:02 am IST - KOLKATA

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee holds a meeting with DMs, SPs and task force committee members over the price hike of essential commodities, in Kolkata on July 9, 2024.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee holds a meeting with DMs, SPs and task force committee members over the price hike of essential commodities, in Kolkata on July 9, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI


State task force teams conducted inspections of marketplaces across West Bengal on July 10 following Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s directives to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Enforcement Branch on Tuesday to raid marketplaces and ensure the price of agricultural commodities are brought down in ten days.

Inspections and raids were carried out in multiple places across Kolkata and the State, including in Maniktala, VIP Bazaar, College Street Market, Gariahat, Lake Market in Kolkata as well in markets in other cities like Asansol Bazaar, Hooghly’s Chunchura Kharuabazar.

“We carried out raids in both retail and wholesale markets in Asansol, and saw a stark difference of around ₹4-5 per kg among the two, even though the markets are just 500 metres apart,” Asansol sub-divisional officer Biswajit Bhattacharya told The Hindu. “We questioned both buyers and sellers, and directed the vendors to keep prices within controlled limits.”

Mr. Bhattacharya was carrying out inspections in marketplaces across Asansol along with district agriculture officials and police. He added that the task force in Asansol also examined the sellers’ weighing machines and found discrepancies in many cases. “A fine was imposed in such instances, and we also cautioned the market committee against indiscriminate price hikes,” he said.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee conducted a meeting at Nabanna on Wednesday to address the surge in prices of raw food items in the State and directed the police and enforcement branch to bring prices down in the next ten days. “The STF, CID, Enforcement Branch, Intelligence Bureau (IB) will keep a watch on this issue,” she said on Tuesday, adding that meetings and reports must be organised on the matter on a regular basis.

Senior member of the Chief Minister’s task force Rabindranath Koley questioned the reason behind the hike in commodity prices. “The very reason behind these price hikes is debatable. Whether it is natural or man-made, that is what we are trying to ascertain in our inspections,” he said during a raid on Wednesday.

Mr. Koley is certain the price of potatoes will come down, but he cautioned that further inspection would be required to address the price hikes of other vegetables. “Inspection will go on for the next few days. We will then discuss the findings in a meeting with the respective committee that has been formed under the Chief Secretary,” he said.

In the meeting on Tuesday, the Chief Minister had raised questions on why onions are being imported to the State from Nasik in Maharashtra. “Fish is being imported from Andhra Pradesh, eggs from Hyderabad, onions from Nasik — can Bengal not produce food for itself?” she asked. “Some people get too greedy and create an artificial demand,” the Chief Minister said, adding that items like potatoes have been kept locked away in cold storage in massive quantities by big businessmen, aggravating the price hike issue.

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