Kolkata: The West Bengal government has written to the Centre seeking permission for poppy cultivation in the state, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday told the state Assembly during the special and extended Budget Session.
She also sought the support of the legislators from the opposition BJP on this count.
“The Union government does not allow poppy cultivation in West Bengal despite this product being a popular food item of the people of the state. So, we are forced to import poppy from other states. That is why the price of this product is so high in West Bengal. If the Union government allows cultivation of poppy in the state, its price will automatically come down here,” she said.
On this issue, she sought the support of BJP legislators claiming that poppy items are also quite favourite of the MLAs from the opposition camp.
“Why is poppy cultivation allowed in just four Indian states? Why should our state be deprived of the permission to cultivate poppies here? The Union government should remember that poppy is not just cultivated for production of intoxicants. Hence, I have written to the Union government for the permission,” she said.
This is not the first time that the West Bengal government has demanded permission to cultivate poppy in the state. Banerjee raised the matter at the Eastern Zonal Council Meeting at Bhubaneswar which was chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. However, no positive decision came on this count since then.
Banerjee also claimed that her government initiative to encourage onion cultivation in West Bengal has brought down the price of the food staple to a great extent. “Previously we had to depend on import of onion from Nasik in Maharashtra. But now through systematic research and development onion is produced in many districts of West Bengal. So, we want to achieve that in case of poppy cultivation as well,” the Chief Minister said.