J&K among costliest places to live as June inflation reaches 3.8%

Jammu and Kashmir’s inflation rate as per Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the month of June is 3.74 percent – much higher than all-India average of 3.18 percent – making the Himalayan state as one of the most expensive place in India to live. 

According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for June released by Union Ministry of Statistics And Program Implementation, J&K is among states where the inflation rate is on the higher side compared to 3.18 percent national average. The high inflation is significant in view of the frequent closure and restrictions on Jammu-Srinagar national highway, which has been causing price hike in essential commodities.

Traders say goods lying stranded on the national highway for days has been causing shortage of supplies on regular basis. This as per traders is a reason for price hike witnessed throughout this year. Bashir Ahmad Basheer, president of Parimpora Fruit Mandi says prices of goods which started sky-rocketing during national highway closure in January this year has seen no respite.

“Truck loads of goods and livestock don’t find it so easy to travel from Mughal Road due to the terrain and condition of the road. As a result they get stuck on national highway for days. Supplies take several days to reach the markets, which hits prices,” said Bashir. 

He said that apart from highway closure and recent restrictions on civilian traffic due to ongoing Amarnath Yatra, a huge demand of supplies for marriage season has also increased prices of goods especially vegetables and mutton. “This time of year we have sufficient produce of local vegetables. But other outside fruits and vegetables on which we are dependent on witness a sudden price hike,” Bashir said.

Interestingly, as per official data, retail inflation continued to climb across the country during the month of June 2019, reaching an eight-month high of 3.18 percent. The retail inflation figures during the year-ago period in June 2018 were 4.92 percent, and 3.05 percent during May 2019. The retail inflation, calculated on the basis of Consumer Price Index (CPI), has been on the rise since January this year.

Meanwhile, prices of mutton in the Valley have also been witnessing a sharp increase while consumers blame the government for failing to notify the fixed prices of this essential commodity. After fluctuation in prices of mutton and its varying prices in different markets, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department during month of Ramadhan had decided to go for a price review of mutton which it has not done so far.

“This whole year has been full of difficulties for smooth delivery of goods to the Valley due to either closure of highway or ban for civillian traffic on it. What government has failed to do is to have a price mechanism for the mutton industry causing arbitrary hike,” said Mehraj-u-din Ganai, general secretary of All Kashmir Wholesale Mutton Dealers Association.

“After taking a firm stand that prices of mutton will be reviewed, there has been no action from the government and mutton continues to be sold at Rs 500 per kg. Even the traders who had met several representatives from the administration including CAPD in the past are non-committal on the present arbitrary prices,” said Ganai.