Keeping the prices of food related items and other essentials under control in markets is something which the concerned authorities fail almost every winter.
The frequent blocking of Srinagar-Jammu Highway due to snow and landslides gives an excuse to a section of shopkeepers to indulge in hoarding and profiteering.
The rates fixed by the government are openly violated and the customers are made to pay through nose while making purchasing.
Sometimes the scarcity of food related items is created deliberately for over-pricing. Because of the uncontrolled price hike in the market, all sections of the society are hit.
However, those with low income face more difficult situation. Be it vegetables, fruits, mutton, chicken, eggs or the other essentials, the rates keep on fluctuating towards the higher side. Amid this scenario, there is no strict and frequent checking by the government officials.
The concerned department is not able to make its strong presence in the markets. The violators get encouraged and they sell the items on the prices of their choice.
The government must make the rate lists public, and every shopkeeper must keep the rate lists at display. Then special squads must be set up for market checking and the number of such teams must be increased so that they cover all areas and do inspection frequently.
The consumers too have a responsibility not to fall prey to hoarding and profiteering and they must insist on prices, fixed by the government. It has been observed that most consumers easily get ready to buy essentials and other food items on exorbitant rates.
This encourages the violators. The mutton, chicken, vegetable and fruit sellers hike the prices and force the customers to buy. In absence of the government inspection teams, the shopkeepers do what they like.
If strict action is taken against those over-pricing, others indulging in such malpractices will get discouraged.
The officials on the other hand say it is not practically possible for them to inspect each and every shop.
According to them, the people must also come forward and lodge report against those who try to fleece them. If a report is lodged, action can be taken.
When people willingly buy the over-priced items, what can the department do, they ask and seek the cooperation of people in putting an end to such bad practices this winter.
The government officials must not wholly rely on customers, they too need to become pro-active in winter and run sustainable campaigns against hoarding and profiteering to get better results.