| Residents purchase onions in Patna on Thursday. Picture by Jai Prakash |
Residents have finally started feeling the steep price rise of essential vegetables like onion and potato.
Onion was being sold in the range of Rs 36-44 per kg in the local market on Thursday against its recent rate of Rs 24-28. Even potato prices have gone up and good quality potato was being sold above Rs 30 per kg in the local market which was earlier available between Rs 12 and Rs 15 a kg.
The residents fear that if the state government does not take any strict action against the responsible people, the situation may go out of control. This situation is prevailing in the city for last one week and the residents are feeling the pinch.
The wholesale traders blamed the local market whereas the state government passed the buck to the Centre for the situation.
“We were buying onion for Rs 24 to Rs 28 per kg a week ago and potato for Rs 12 to Rs 15, but in the last one week, the price has gone haywire. At some places, the prices are even higher. It is a very bad situation and we fear that if it prevails for a few more days then it would be terrible for us to hit the market,” said Sumit Kumar of Boring Road.
On an average, Patna receives around 400 tonnes of onion and around 300 tonnes of potato daily to cater to the need of the residents. However, without any weather issues, the steep price rise of these vegetables has come as a surprise the people.
Manoj Kumar of Ashiana said: “It is impossible to have any dish without onion, especially the non-vegetarian ones. It is equally same with the potato, considered most essential vegetable among all.”
Sujeet Kumar, a wholesale trader in Mithapur market, said: “There is no problem from our side and we are selling onion and potato at Rs 18-19 per kg and Rs 15-16, respectively. If it goes to local market, it should not cross more than Rs 4-6 extra. If retailers at the local market charge more than Rs 10 or Rs 12, then it is bad. They should be punished for that. There is no demand and supply issue at all and we have enough stock.”
Patna receives onion from Nashik and potato from Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. Ironically, most of the onion and potato produced in Patna and Nalanda districts goes to Northeast and even Nepal.
About the present situation in the market, food and consumer protection minister Shyam Rajak said: “Such a situation will keep on arising till the Centre does not fix a rate of onion and potato. At the same time, the Centre must also fix stock capacity and make law on hoarding as a non-bailable offence. However, about this particular situation, I have already asked the district magistrates and superintendents of police to conduct random raids to put immediate check on this practice both at wholesale and local markets.”
About the reason for the steep hike of these two items, agriculture expert Anil Kumar Jha said: “There are many factors in case prices rise in vegetables and it does not take place in just one day. However, in such cases, it is the market forces, which play important role — the chain from wholesale to distribution of product in the market.”