Officials of the agricultural marketing department, however, said they were concerned over the move. “The Chief Minster had looked into all the aspects before issuing the notification,” said a senior official of the department.
Arunava Ghosh, lawyer representing the traders, said the state had no right to put a restriction to the free, inter-state movement of potatoes. Traders said that they were under agreement with their counterparts in other states and this restriction had not only curbed their fundamental right but had also led to huge losses as buyers from other states were now claiming damages for the inability to deliver the goods on time. “We will claim compensation from the state,” said one of the traders.
Officials of the agricultural marketing department also said that this restriction was in accordance with the West Bengal Agricultural Product Marketing Control and Regulation Act 1974. “It is very much possible to put a restriction according to this act and we have done the same,” he said and added that if traders would move court, then the state too would take legal help.
Agricultural Marketing minister Arup Ray refused to comment on the issue saying that the Chief Minister had taken over the department herself and she would be in a better position to comment on the issue.
Looking at the out-of-control price of potatoes, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had taken over this department on October 30, to bring prices under control and had taken several steps since then to check prices of potatoes.