Millennium Post

Mamata’s ‘fair-price’ mobile vans a hit by providing food at cheap rates

Providing cheaper food is good politics for any government. The Mamata Banerjee led West Bengal government has been doing just that by dotting Kolkata with mobile vans that provide fish, chicken, vegetables and fruits at reasonable prices to the consumer.

A number of government ‘fair-price’ mobile vans selling chicken, fish and fruits have sprung up across Kolkata. Around 21 such vans, that attract attention with their message, now sell organically dressed chicken at prices well below the market rate. Eight stalls deal in fish and with the advent of Ramadan, half a dozen fruit stalls have opened.

‘Chicken prices had shot up above Rs 200 a kilo. That is when we decided to step in. The motive was two-fold - check the rising prices and discourage the illegal slaughter of the birds on pavements,’ Pradip Majumdar, advisor to the chief minister on agriculture and allied sectors said. Majumdar said with the government chicken shops doing brisk business, the prices have now dropped to below Rs. 150 - the ceiling fixed by the state. ‘Basically, it is a mechanism to keep the prices of these commodities under control and set up a pricing benchmark to be followed by the market,’ said Majumdar. While there is now one unit where the chickens are dressed and packed and sent to the stores, all the stalls would soon be equipped with advanced machines for providing organically dressed chicken directly to the customers.

After successfully selling chicken, the government has now followed it up by vending fish like Rohu, Katla Mrigal, Tilapiya at wholesale prices.

The fish stalls have been a big draw among customers for their prices are 20-25 percent below the market rate. However, the initiative comes with a rider - a customer cannot buy more than a kilo. Fisheries minister Chandra Nath Sinha said his department would sit with civic bodies across the state to draw up plans to extend the initiative to other districts.
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