Govt's failure to control prices on Eid leaves poor in lurch

The upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr celebration is going to be a costly affair for poor as prices of essentials have gone up in Kashmir.

The chicken is sold at Rs 190/kg against the government-fixed rate of Rs 110/kg.

Given the invisibility of checking squads on ground and absence of effective mechanism, people fear

the exorbitant price are likely to increase more.

In addition to this, vegetables, fruits and milk are also sold at exorbitant rates.

People alleged that authorities failed to take timely measures to check the menace of profiteering and are now just making statements on market regulation. They said there was need for intensified market regulation around a week ago in view of upcoming festival.

“Meetings and statements cannot suffice. It was the responsibility of authorities to initiate the measures to control prices, take stakeholders into confidence,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, a caller from Bemina.

A large number of population earns livelihood through manual labour in Kashmir. However, due to pandemic restrictions, they have not earned even a penny for past two months. This section of people is worst hit by profiteering.

“I have not earned a penny for two months due to COVID19 restrictions. How can I make my family to celebrate the Eid as chicken sells at 190/kg and mutton at Rs 720/kg,” said another caller who identified himself as Ghulam Muhammad from Mehjoor Nagar.

Most of the callers, mostly comprising labourers, drivers, and daily wagers said that this Eid is going to be costly affair as due to failure of authorities to put a check on market prices, purchase of Eid products is an unaffordable for them.

Authorities have been maintaining that they are taking action as and when complaints of profiteering pour in. However, people refute the claims, saying, “Mere market checks at few places for photo sessions or for issuing press statements is an eyewash and nothing more than that. We need results on ground and not hollow assurances.”

Callers from different areas complain that loose milk is being sold at Rs 50/kg, cheese Rs 250/kg, bananas Rs 100/ dozen, tomatoes 35/kg.

There are several agencies responsible for checking the menace of profiteering. One of the major departments which fix rates of essential commodities is Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs (FCSCA).

Though a day ago, FCSA Director Bashir Ahmad Khan had said that complaints of profiteering are taken note of, people alleged that no improvement was seen on ground “rather the profiteering touches new heights with each passing day.”

“On Friday (May 22), we have booked six persons for profiteering and also recovered fine upto tune of Rs 17000. The market checking drive is going on,” Khan said on Friday evening.

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Shahid Iqbal Choudhary appealed people to approach authorities with written complaint.

“I assure that strict action under law will be taken against profiteers. Today I spent four hours in market to ensure complaints of profiteering are redressed on ground,” he said.

He informed that 72 violators were booked on Friday during his surprise checks in various markets.