Highway closure leads to surge in vegetables prices

Officials say that they are acting against violators
By Riyaz Bhat
Srinagar: With Srinagar-Jammu highway remaining closed for the fourth consecutive day due to heavy snowfall, vegetable and poultry retailers here have resorted to unilateral hike in prices, with officials maintaining that they are keeping tab rates by conducting market checks.
The surge in rates has mostly been witnessed in fresh vegetables that are imported to valley. While tomatoes that were selling for Rs 10- 15 last week have touched Rs25, five rupees higher than the government set rate of Rs 20.
Similarly peas, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage too have witnessed an upward trend with poultry prices too surging by Rs 15 per kilogram.
“Few days back I purchased a broiler chick at Rs 106 per kilogram, but today it is being offered at Rs 130 per kilogram, while its official rate is only Rs.100 per kilogram,” said a customer Shameema Ali from Pampore.
The mismatch of retail rates on the ground according to customers is also inexplicable, saying that government should implement a uniform rate structure.
Customers say kilogram of tomato is sold for Rs 30 in the markets along Bemina, while its rate at Qamerwari is Rs 25 while at Batamaloo it is Rs 20.
“Vendors are free to decide prices and this needs to be checked,” said Masood Ahamad a resident of Hamdaniya Colony Bemina. Mehraj-u-Din, vice president wholesale vegetable dealers at Iqbal Sazi Mandi Batmallo said that supplies are scarce to get as many of the fresh vegetable imports have been stalled because of the closure of the highway.
“At present we offer mostly potatoes and onions besides some locally grown vegetables to retailers and we have not hiked the price and it is only the retail side that is witnessing a surged,” he said.
Dealers say that during winters vegetables are mostly imported from Delhi, Punjab and Jammu and many trucks that were on way to Srinagar have got stuck on the highway.
However director of Directorate of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Tasaduq Jeelani told Kashmir Reader that they have framed the teams that continuously take stock of availability of essential commodities and try to regulate the rates by penalising any violators.
“We are using all means of communication to reach out to customers to make them aware of the prevalent rates of essential commodities, besides our enforcement squads have dealt effectively with violators and book those found in profiteering and hoarding.