At a time when the pandemic is giving a hard time to the people, soaring prices of essential items in the summer capital have multiplied their woes by burning a hole in their pockets.
Even though the authorities claim that they are keeping a strict vigil to prevent profiteering by the traders, the people allege little is being done on the ground as they are forced to purchase commodities at exorbitant prices.
"It seems there is no administration in Srinagar. We are being forced to purchase commodities at whatever prices fixed by the retailers," claimed Saliq Riyaz, who was standing outside a grocery store to buy edible oil. "Last month, the rate of a 15-litre edible oil pack was Rs 2100 but today I had to purchase it at Rs 2500."
The vendors in the vegetable market which opens in the early morning hours at places like Habba Kadal and Amira Kadal have been reportedly selling greens at the rates of their liking.
"Despite spending several hours today morning visiting a number of sellers, I couldn't find a reasonable price to buy vegetables. I had to buy at an exorbitant rate," said 60-year-Fatima, a resident of Gaw Kadal.
The locals said that mutton sellers were also looting people with two hands by selling mutton at Rs 600 per kg, violating the rate list issued by the government. "Doesn't matter which butcher I visit, they are all reluctant to sell at the rates fixed by the government," said Gulzar Ahmad Dar, a resident of Basant Bagh.
"I purchased a tray of eggs for exorbitant Rs 180. Two days ago, the rate was just Rs 135," said Abdul Hamid of Dalgate.
Not just Srinagar, people from different parts of the valley have been taking to social media platforms to complain about the spike in prices of the essentials.
Director, Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs (FCS&CA), Abdul Salaam Mir told Greater Kashmir that his department was conducting raids and inspections on a daily basis to keep a strict vigil.
"We are receiving complaints related to irregular prices of vegetables and meat almost on a daily basis and we make sure that we act immediately upon them," Mir said.
He said the department has constituted a combined team of food technologists, veterinarians and other experts for daily inspection of the markets.
According to Mir, the FCS&CA department is "committed' to tighten noose on meat sellers and vegetable vendors who sell food items at prices they like. "We assure the public that those shopkeepers involved in fraudulent dealings will be brought to book," Mir added.
According to the data provided by the FCS&CA, the department on May 20th conducted inspection of 403 establishments across Kashmir and penalized 67 defaulters during the raids.
So far this month, the department has received 21 complaints regarding the poor quality of meat and exorbitant prices of vegetables and other edibles.
The department says it has acted upon all the 21 complaints and brought perpetrators to justice. During the month of May only, the department has realised over Rs 3 lakh in fines.