Surprise inspections in Kolkata to check vegetable prices going through the roof

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Kolkata Police’s enforcement branch would start visiting some of the biggest wholesale and retail markets in the city from Thursday to check the prices of vegetables that have gone through the roof over the past one or two weeks. Authorities suspect hoarding could also be one of the reasons behind the spiralling of prices.

“We have formed four teams which would fan out in four directions and visit some of the biggest wholesale and retail markets in the city to check the prices of vegetables. The teams are expected to start visiting the markets from around 7:30 am on Thursday. These would be surprise visits,” said a senior official of the enforcement branch.

The prices of vegetables have almost doubled over the past few days. This is pinching the pockets of the residents who are already at a loss with the pandemic.

“The prices of most of the vegetables have shot up. For some, like potatoes, the price has almost doubled. Last year around this time, potatoes used to sell at Rs 14 – Rs 15 per kilo. No it is selling at Rs 27 – Rs 28 per kilo. A few days ago it had shot up to Rs 30 per kilo,” said Rabindranath Koley, general secretary of the West Bengal Forum of Traders’ Organisation and a member of the government taskforce.

He said that while on one hand cyclone Amphan and the heavy rains during the monsoon have damaged several crops that have led to price rise; alleged hoarding of potatoes in cold storages have also led to a spike in prices.

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“The surprise raids will start from around 8:00 and will continue over the next two to three days. We would be primarily checking the prices of potatoes as they have gone up drastically over the past few days. There would be four members in each team,” said a member of the team which would be visiting some of the biggest wholesale and retail markets in north and central Kolkata.

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This is, however, not the first time that the EB officials are conducting such raids in the city markets. Earlier, too, such surprise visits have been made resulting in a drop in prices.

“The police come and ask us to reduce the selling price. But what can we do if the price at which we purchase the items is high? The government should check the prices with middlemen who bring the items to the cities and the wholesale markets,” said Nitai Das, a vegetable seller in a market in east Kolkata.

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