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Odisha to set up task force for preservation of potatoes

India TV News Desk 13 Aug 2014, 21:08:13 PM IST
India TV News Desk
Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government today decided to set up a task force to prepare a long term plan for production, preservation and distribution of the tuber, while people in bordering Balasore district stopped West Bengal-bound trucks carrying fish and eggs.  The task force to be headed by the Agriculture secretary, would have secretaries of cooperation and food supplies and consumer welfare departments as members.  

“The task force will prepare a long term action plan for production, preservation and distribution of potato. It has been asked to submit the report within 30 days,” said Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare minister Sanjay Dasburma after a meeting here.

While the state required about 11 lakh metric tonnes of potatoes per annum, Odisha produced only 2.5 lakh metric tonnes. Therefore, the state has to depend on West Bengal to meet its potato requirements, he said.  With the West Bengal government imposing restrictions on potato transportation, the state has been reeling with tuber shortage since August 6.

The minister said the state has planned to create a four lakh tonne buffer stock of potatoes to meet the crisis mostly arising between August and December. The stock would be distributed to the people through PDS outlets.  Departmental secretary Madhusudan Padhi said the proposal would be implemented next year.  “We will have the buffer stock before August next year. Later, the stock limit will decrease keeping an eye on the demand,” said Padhi.

Meanwhile, BJP activists in Balasore district detained hundreds of trucks carrying fish and other food items to West Bengal protesting the Mamata Benerjee-government's “undeclared restrictions” on transportation of potatoes to Odisha.  Sources said, though the Bengal Police did not allow movement of potatoes through the Laxmannath check gate, some trucks came to Odisha through different routes.  “About 150 trucks carrying potatoes have reached the markets of Odisha,” said S S Mishra, secretary of the traders' association in Bhubaneswar.