Essential commodities sold at exorbitant rates, admin in slumber

Complaints continue to pour in about the essential commodities being solid at exorbitant rates even as authorities have claimed to have set-up special price control squads to check profiteering on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr.

People from different areas of city said shopkeepers and vendors were selling essentials at exorbitant rates, and hence doubling the problems of the people amid COVID19 lockdown.

Greater Kashmir received scores of calls from different areas of Srinagar wherein people said that chicken was being sold at Rs 170/kg instead of the government fixed rate Rs 110/kg.

People complained that there were no market-checking teams visible on the ground, thus giving free field to shopkeepers and vendors to violate the government fixed rates.

“Potatoes, tomatoes, radishes and other vegetables are also being sold at exorbitant rates. People have no option but to pay extra bucks,” said Mubashir Ahmad of Sonwar here.

Many people said the shopkeepers were resorting to profiteering under the nose of authorities. “There is complete failure of market regulation,” they said.

Showkat Ahmad of Ram bagh said meat was being sold at Rs 650 and 710 per kg against the government rate fixed of Rs 440.

As the shops are closed, some shopkeepers are operating from home premises or under closed shutters.

In view of ongoing holy month of Ramdhan, the demand for essential commodities has increased manifold with people prefer to have delicious dishes at Sheri and Iftaar.

In view of upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr, the demand for mutton, chicken and other commodities has grown manifold.

Some callers from Zainakadal, Habakadal, HMT, Nishat and Chanapora shared similar complaints.

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).

“If authorities wish, nobody can dare to loot consumers but alas they are in deep slumber,” said a consumer.

Authorities have repeatedly said “people need to register complaints so that action under law can initiated against violators.”

However, people said that “surprise checks” must be commenced. “It was a routine for authorities to visit mutton shops, chicken sellers or any other vegetable and fruit seller as customer. Then, an official, pretending o be a customer, used to inquire about prices to know if government fixed rates were adhered to,” said a caller who identified himself as Ishtiyaq Ahmad.

He said such “surprise checks” were done by officials proactively without waiting for public complaints. “In fact, that is the way to perform official duty on ground than to wait for calls or complaints,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said around 12 persons were booked on Wednesday for profiteering. “Strict action under law will be taken against profiteers,” he said.

FCSCA Director Bashir Ahmad Khan said that action under law was being taken against profiteers. “We are taking notice of complaints and acting under law,” he said.