Soaring rates of essentials irk consumers

The skyrocketing prices of essentials in Kashmir have left consumers aghast as consumers allege that the essentials items are being sold at higher prices without any regard to rate lists issued by authorities.

Consumers blamed Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department (FCS & CA) for not doing enough to cap the prices of essentials ahead of winter in Kashmir even as traders maintain that they are themselves receiving essentials at higher prices.

A visit to several markets in Srinagar revealed that essentials like vegetables, meat and poultry products are being sold at higher rates than what has been fixed by authorities. Meat which is capped at Rs 440 per kg by authorities is being sold above Rs 600 per kg at Maharaj Bazar and adjoining markets in Srinagar. Poultry products like chicken and eggs are also being sold higher than fixed rates.

During the last few weeks, vegetables like onion and potatoes have also witnessed increase in their rates.

“Since the lockdown, people are finding it hard to earn livelihood and now the high price of essentials is another blow to them. From vegetables to meat and poultry, there is no regard for government fixed rates. I visited market today and even locally produced essentials are being sold at higher prices under the nose of administration,” said Zahoor Ahmed, a shopper.

Consumers say that if such ‘loot’ continues in the market, it will be hard for people to get enough essentials to feed themselves in coming time. “The highway is wide open and harsh winters are yet to arrive. If this is the state of the market at this juncture then what will be the prices in mid-winter. It will be harder for poor consumers to survive,” another shopper said. Director, FCS & CA, Bashir Ahmed Khan said that department is leaving no stone unturned to keep the rates in check. Khan said that cooperation of consumers is also essential so the action can be taken against black-marketing.

“Only in last two days, we registered 14 FIRs against shopkeepers who were selling essentials at higher prices than what has been fixed by the department. Since the implementation of lockdown earlier this year, the department has done everything to keep prices in control. We are aware that some shopkeepers are selling meat, poultry and other products at higher prices and we are also taking legal action against such people. In such cases we also need the cooperation of consumers so that legal actions can be taken to logical conclusions,” Khan said.

He said that in the next few days, the department will revisit all the rates and will decide what essentials are to be capped at what rates so that neither consumers nor traders will have to suffer.