| Motphran area, the largest market in Meghalaya. File picture |
Shillong, July 2: Citizens are disappointed with the BJP-led NDA government as they swallow the “bitter pill” called “food inflation”.
“We expected that with the BJP taking charge of the government, there would be relief. But things have not chan-ged. Our household budget exceeds by Rs 1,000 every mo-nth,” said Kalkal Momin, a re-sident of Upper Chandmari in Tura in West Garo hills, said.
Echoing Momin, Silje B. Sangma, a resident of Bonepa locality in Tura, said, “The cost of living is escalating every day. It has become difficult for me to manage. In neighbouring Assam villages, the price varies. There is no regulation of price in Tura.”
These are only a few of the complaints expressed by citizens who have to meet ends with limited means. The sentiments expressed could be similar across the country.
However, authorities are on their toes to ensure that no hoarding, black marketing and creation of artificial scarcity of essential food items take place.
In Shillong, the East Khasi Hills deputy commissioner approves rates of ess ential commodities, and no one can sell beyond the prescribed rate. The district also has the price monitoring committee for essential commodities, which regularly puts a check on the essential food items.
However, to pre-empt any artificial scarcity by vested interest groups, deputy commissioner Sanjay Goyal said random checks would be conducted in the markets. Till date, no complaint of hoarding has reached the office of the deputy commissioner, he said.
At the same time, he said Meghalaya largely depends on imports from other states, as there is little production here.
West Garo Hills deputy commissioner Pravin Bakshi said until date, there has been no complaint of hoarding in the district while claiming that regular checks are being conducted in the markets.
It may be mentioned that the Centre had asked all the state governments to crack down on hoarders. The department of consumer affairs, under the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, has stated that seasonality plays a major impact on prices of vegetables.
“However, the abnormal price rise witnessed last year was mainly because of lower production along with hoarding. Even though the production of onion as well as potato was higher during 2013-14 compared to 2012-13, the reason for the current price rise in these commodities may be because of manipulation of market forces,” the department has said in a note, which has been put on its website.
Secretary to the Frontier Chamber of Commerce, S.K. Tarad, said, “There is no hoarding or black marketing of essential commodities in Meghalaya. There is a sufficient quantity of essential items.”
According to him, in Shillong, the wholesale price of onion is in the range of Rs 25 and Rs 35 while the retail price is in between Rs 35 and Rs 45. The wholesale price of potato is Rs 18 while the retail price is in the range of Rs 22 and Rs 23.
The deputy commissioner fixes the prices of essential commodities after every 15 days, he added.
Tarad also said materials to Shillong are being sent from Guwahati, and hence, the prices will depend on the Guwahati market scenario.
In Tura, the price of onion is Rs 40 per kg while potato (new) and potato (old) is Rs 40 and Rs 30 per kg, respectively. However, these prices vary in other places.
According to government data, food inflation based on consumer price index (CPI) has shown a rise of 9.40 per cent for the month of May 2014 as against 10.71 per cent a year ago.
The rate of inflation showed a marginal decline compared to the previous year, but it is still very high, the data said.
The Centre has convened a conference of state ministers of consumer affairs on “increase in food prices” in New Delhi on Friday.