In a bid to check the hike in prices of essential goods due to demonetisation of higher denomination currency notes, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Monday that no agricultural tax would be imposed on entry of trucks to Bengal from other states for the next three days.
The decision has been taken so that vegetables and other essential items loaded in trucks, which are stuck at different border entry points for failing to pay the tax, do not perish.
The supply of essential goods is likely to fall if trucks remain stranded at the borders for next few days.
In one of her tweets, Banerjee stated: “Thousands of trucks carrying vegetables & other essential products are stuck at different state borders because they cannot pay toll tax. Waiting for 3 days. To save farmers and commoners, perishable vegetables should not be allowed to spoil. Bengal government has decided not to impose any agricultural tax on movement of trucks for next 3 days.”
In another tweet, she stated: “Thousands of trucks all over the country carrying essential goods and perishables facing huge cash shortage crisis.
This issue will become even more serious over next few days and push essential prices up beyond control. Quick action needed.”
Reports on trucks loaded with goods, including perishable ones, stranded at borders led to panic among traders in the state.
They apprehended a hike in price of essential goods due to short supply as the trucks were not able to enter the state without paying the tax.
At the same time, goods like fishes and vegetables worth crores of rupees were perishing in the trucks itself. It would leave a deep impact on the market.
The shortfall in the supply of essential goods would lead to inconvenience to the people as on the one hand they do not have the required money while on the other the prices of essential goods may go up.
Truck owners and traders in the state heaved a sigh of relief with Banerjee’s announcement on exemption of agricultural tax.
They felt that the decision was crucial and timely or they had to stop bringing in goods from other states.
“Several types of medicines also enter the state from different parts of the country and their supply would have been impacted if the Chief Minister had not taken the decision on time,” said Sajahan Molla, a member of Federation of West Bengal Truck Operators’ Association.
He said that they had received information till Monday afternoon that around 2,000 trucks were stranded at Jamsola and Girisola entry points at Odisha-Bengal border. Another 400 trucks could not enter the state for the past few days and remained stranded at Datan entry point.
“But the good news is that some trucks have started moving in after the Chief Minister’s announcement on Monday,” Molla said. Senior officials of the state government also held a meeting with representatives of trucks owners and operators association to solve the problem.