SRINAGAR: Prices of vegetables, fruits, and chicken have risen sharply while mutton has almost vanished from markets in Srinagar due to the closure of the national highway. Locals are also blaming hoarding by traders and lack of control by government authorities on market supplies.
The government-set rates are nowhere being implemented, said Ghulam Rasool Bhat who purchased a kilogram of onion for Rs 30 that according him was selling at Rs 18 per kilogram last week.
“I somehow laid hands on these onions as there is dearth of vegetables in the market. Retailers have increased prices and are refusing to give any concessions,” he said.
Wholesalers, however, say that lack of fresh supplies is the reason for the price hike. “There is acute shortage of vegetables like cabbage, capsicum, green chillies, cauliflower, brinjal, which we have to import these from north Indian states. No stocks are left with us,” said Abdul Hamid Bangroo, president of the Iqbal Mandi vegetable market at Batamaloo.
He said that traders themselves have suffered huge losses as truckloads that were bringing supplies have been stuck on the highway for more than ten days.
Shahid Chowdhary, Joint Secretary of the Fruit Mandi Association of Parimpora, said traders had no stocks left of fruits and vegetables. “The only commodities left are onions and potatoes and some fruits, which only a few traders have,” he said.
He added that nearly 500 vehicles of the Parimpora traders are stuck on the highway. “Almost 50 percent of the vegetables and fruits have been damaged sitting inside those vehicles,” he said.
The government, meanwhile, has dispatched enforcement officials to keep a tab on rates of vegetables. Locals, however, are saying that the action taken by authorities is half-hearted and has borne no results.
Zahida Bano, a Srinagar resident, said that it is futile to check rates at this juncture as there is no mechanism in place by which the government can ensure that fresh vegetables are available to people on daily basis.
The rates of local produce, including turnip, radish, carrot, hakh and nadru have also surged in the markets. A kilogram of carrot is being sold at Rs 30, double the rate of a week earlier.
“There is no point in asking for the government’s rate list. The authorities should bring supplies and provide them to public through PDS supply system,” Zahida Bano said.
Mohammed Yousuf, who supplies chicken in Batamaloo market, said he is buying 1 kg chicken at Rs 135 and selling it for Rs 150. The price of a 40-kg chicken feed bag has increased to Rs 200, he said. “The rates have increased due to shortage of chicken,” he said.
Director of Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Kashmir, Mohammad Qasim said that enforcement teams were continuously checking market rates. “We are taking strict action against those who have hiked prices,” he said.