SRINAGAR: People across the Kashmir valley are complaining that they have to pay high prices to buy vegetables, of which only a few kinds are available, in the market.
Currently, only some specific vegetables are available in the market, mostly tomatoes, potatoes and onions. Their rates have almost doubled.
A pan-India lockdown is in force for 21 days, following the announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
While the demand for poultry has gone down drastically in Kashmir valley in the last few days, the demand for vegetables has gone up, which has resulted in steep rise in their prices.
People say they are helpless in the prevailing situation and have no other option but to pay the high rates. Locals in Srinagar informed that tomatoes and potatoes are selling at sixty to eighty rupees a kg, while onions 9are selling at sixty to seventy rupees.
Similar complaints have been received from almost all areas of Kashmir valley, with people expressing concern at the spike in vegetable prices, both in markets and by vendors who come selling in their lanes and by-lanes.
Muneer Bazaz, a resident of Srinagar, said, “The rates have gone too high. I had to get onions at 80 rupees a kg while it used to be 40 rupees in normal days. We are under difficult circumstances, but sellers and vendors are fleecing us by charging double the rates.”
Suhail Ahmad, a resident of Anantnag, said, “I had to buy potatoes at 70 rupees per kg today morning. Many vegetable varieties are unavailable.”
The vegetable wholesalers and dealers at different mandis across the valley said they have ample supply available with them but due to the lockdown they have not been able to transport the vegetables to many areas. Also, they said, they lack manpower to bring in vegetables and supply them elsewhere. Due to the current lockdown, people are restricted to their homes and workers are unable to come to work, they said.
Nisar Ahmad, a vegetable wholesaler in Anantnag, told Kashmir Reader, “At our end, we are selling all the vegetables at normal rates. We don’t know what the sellers are vendors are doing with it. There can be a dearth of vegetable supplies reaching them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll overcharge customers.”
“In this distressing time, we all need to act with sense and humanity. Sellers and vendors should not fleece customers in this hard time. We need to save ourselves at this time, not invite wrath from Allah,” he added.
Manzoor Ahmad, a vegetable seller, said, “The supply is short and rates are high from the wholesalers as well. We have to undergo through hardships to make the vegetables available to people at their doorsteps. We’re risking our lives to ensure availability of vegetables.”
Bashir Ahmad Khan, Director of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, said on this matter, “It’s sad that vendors are selling vegetables at high rates and taking undue advantage of the situation in these hard times. As long as the lockdown is in place, we’re unable to do any market checking as markets are shut, but I will direct all the district officials to keep a check on vendors.”
“Sellers and vendors should sell vegetables at minimal prices at this crucial juncture of time and stop fleecing customers. We are unable to reach every corner of valley at this time but it’s the responsibility of people to report about exorbitant rates charged by sellers and vendors,” he added.
He appealed to the general public to register complaints regarding high rates and other issues they face due to the lockdown with the CAPD department on its helpline numbers. He assured that action will be taken against the seller or vendor once the complaint is filed.