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Exorbitant rates of essential commodities pester Srinagarites

12:25 AM May 17, 2024 IST | Rabiya Bashir
exorbitant rates of essential commodities pester srinagarites
An aerial view of a market in Srinagar File: Mubashir Khan/ GK
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Srinagar, May 16: Absence of government regulations on rates of essential commodities is giving a free hand to unscrupulous shopkeepers and vendors to exploit consumers by charging exorbitant rates.

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This unrestricted pricing has severely impacted household budgets, leaving many residents struggling to make ends meet.

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Eatables, including vegetables, fruits, mutton, chicken, pulses, bakery and other essentials have all witnessed substantial price hikes, severely impacting household budgets.

Consumers from different parts of the city have expressed their concerns, saying that shop owners are taking advantage of the situation to inflate prices on essential goods and services.

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A recent market survey conducted by Greater Kashmir revealed that essential items are being sold at 20 to 50 percent higher rates, taking advantage of the deregulation of price lists by the government.

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Aliya Lateef, a resident of Srinagar said that increase in prices have badly hit the consumers.

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"A pastry jar that was previously priced at Rs 150, is now being sold at Rs 200 per piece. That means they have increased Rs 50 at a time. How is this justified?" she asked.

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She said that other essential items like fruits and vegetables are being sold at exorbitant rates and prices vary from locality to locality.

“If we buy vegetables at any market in Downtown Srinagar, you will find better rates than in uptown areas,” said Rameez Ahmad, a resident of Santa Nagar.

They said that the surge in prices comes amidst the absence of government regulations.

"This has happened after the decontrolling of prices, various shopkeepers are taking advantage of the situation and exploiting customers. Government should intervene, and save the interests of consumers," said locals.

Besides shopkeepers, food delivery apps have resorted to "open loot" as they charge extra on each item being ordered through their apps.

"If we buy Mutton Kebab at Rs. 250 from a restaurant in Srinagar, the same item ordered through food delivery apps will cost not less than Rs. 300. They can charge a Rs. 50 delivery fee for the whole order, but instead, they charge separately on each item plus GST, which is open loot, and nobody is controlling that," said Rahil Manzoor, a resident of Rajbagh.

Noted economist, Nisar Ali told Greater Kashmir that since transitioning to a free market system after 1991, there has been a gradual withdrawal of government intervention, resulting in complete economic reform.

“Despite being a welfare state, there has been a neglect of government responsibilities to regulate prices and protect consumer interests. The role of the state in intervening in the economy is to ensure stability and fairness,” he said.

He said that supply and demand determine prices in a free market, government intervention is essential to prevent inflation and protect both producers and consumers.

Nisar cautioned against the adverse effects of deregulation, citing examples of soaring meat prices and exorbitant bakery item rates, which have surged by more than 50% in recent months.

“Government should address market imbalances and protect the interests of both producers and consumers,” he said.

A senior official said that there is a necessity for government regulation in Jammu and Kashmir as its status is a consumer UT.

He expressed concern about traders setting prices for essential commodities, noting the importation of essential items and a portion of poultry from other states, which could lead to exploitation by some traders.

However, officials in the Food Safety Department said that since decontrolling they cannot set the rate list.

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