Bandipora: The bakers and green grocers are having a field day in north Kashmir's Bandipora and are fleecing consumers by charging exorbitant rates.
The market checking squads are having a little to no impact on controlling the prices of essential commodities which are continuously skyrocketing here.
Scores of the customers and the locals in north Kashmir's Bandipora district said that the government’s fixed rates were not being adhered to anywhere in the markets and that the announcements were restricted to news or social media.
The locals said the bakers and confectionaries were charging heavy rates and the field teams were having little impact.
The market checking is proving to be just futile exercise, the locals said. "As soon as the checking teams leave the market, the customers continue to get fleeced as there is no proper mechanism to implement the government rate lists," Suhail Ahamd, a local resident of Bandipora said.
A district official of the FCs&CA, which announced a revised rate list of some bakery items on Monday, said that they were in the field to implement the orders and also sensitize the bakers to sell the items at fixed rates. "They have to abide by the orders anyhow, there will be no concession", he said.
In the district's largest vegetable and fruit market at the old bus stand, the vendors are selling vegetables at exorbitant rates. Locals said fruits are also sold at rates higher than the government’s fixed rate list.
"In the market, I was offered onions and carrots each per kilogram at 40 rupees, while peas were sold at 70 and some sold for 60 rupees per kg, and potatoes were at 30 rupees per kg. Capsicum was offered at 100 rupees," Wahid Altaf who was at the market to buy vegetables told the Greater Kashmir. Altaf said he was offered one and a half dozen second grade bananas at 1oo rupees and melons for 50 rupees per kg, while watermelons were being offered at 40 rupees per kg.
Moreover, the locals said despite the government-set rate list, poultry, eggs and mutton was also being sold at higher rates. They added that the price of pulses and flour was also getting higher without any regulation. "I have bought fruits, eggs and lentils, the prices are so high. We hardly manage, how can a poor afford?" Mohammad Yousuf, an employee said.
Several locals said that the condition was much worse in the villages and town outskirts as there was no control on the prices there and no teams were keeping a check. "I request the administration to send teams to the villages too, the prices there are out of control," Obair Ahmad, a local from Bankoot village, said.
The district administration constituted several teams for the market inspection to check rates, and quality of the essential items, but the locals are not impressed as the higher prices continue to pinch them. The locals said that this was all because there was no mechanism in place to regulate the prices.
"The rate lists are nowhere to be seen despite clear instructions from the administration and department," Asif Mir an advocate said.
"The common rate list if possible should be made public in the shape of large public hoarding or displayed on the numerous electronic screens installed by the Municipal council around the town for the larger public good. Furthermore, in a run up to the Eid, the authorities must keep a team available to announce prices on public address systems in a vehicle."
Officials of the FCS&CA said that the people's cooperation was lacking in curbing the ill practice. Bilal Hassan Najjar, Assistant Director FCS&CA Bandipora said, "The same people who complain later back off.” He said much cooperation from the larger masses was required in buying the items at fixed prices.
Najjar said that they will continue with the marketing checking and sting operations against illegal price hikes.