Assam: Soaring food prices hit Guwahati residents hard
Guwahati: The recent hike in prices of vegetables and edible oils have hit the consumers hard. The coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown had already dismantled the economy and now this current inflation of food items in and around Guwahati have further burdened the citizens and their already stressed wallets. Interestingly the massive hike in prices comes after government's decision to take back the lockdown so as to swing back to normalcy.
A stroll through the markets in Guwahati reflects the load on the consumers as they are made to pay exorbitant prices of most of the food items available in the shelves.
A plate of eggs (containing 30 eggs) is now sold at Rs 190. An egg seller, Kamaluddin says that wholesale rates itself have risen manifold which has forced him to increase the retail price at his shop.
"Earlier, I used to buy it at a carton of eggs at Rs 850 which has rose up to Rs 1,250," said Kamaluddin. A pair of eggs is now sold at Rs 12-14.
The prices of mustard oil is also alarmingly high. Most of the packaged mustard oil brands that have seen the prices going up by at least Rs 10 in each of the brands. It is not just about mustard oil, rates of many of the packaged food items have surged since the "Unlock" was announced. Tea leaves especially costs more now by around Rs 50-60 in each of the brands.
Prices of onion and potato are almost sold in equal prices in Guwahati which hasn't happened before. The two commodities are now sold at Rs 50-60 per kg. Gulab Ali, a vegetable vendor at Kachari Basti market at Ulubari here mentioned that most of the vegetables at his shop cost more than Rs 50 per kilo. Lady's finger is sold at Rs 80 per kg, brinjal at Rs 80 per kg, tomato at Rs 100-120 per kg, squash at Rs 70 per kg. He also says that the rise has been gradual and consistent and predicts it may continue to rise in the coming months.
However, the wholesale rates of potato and onion haven't increased so much now, there hasn't been much of a rise in the since the "Unlock", mentioned Sudhir Kumar, a wholesaler at Fancy Bazar stating that he sells potato at Rs 30-40 per kg depending on the variety of the commodity and onion at 40-50 of different varieties.
There has been deep anguish among the customers and have questioned the steps or the lack thereof from the government to control this price rise of essential commodities, especially in food items.
"It's better not to eat. The prices are horrifying. The pandemic hasn't ended, there's no money. The government hasn't done anything and because of it, we the people are suffering. The government should something about it. This has been the highest rise in prices that I have felt this year," says Gitartha Bhattacharjee, a consumer reflecting his thoughts after looking at the prices of vegetables at the Kachari Basti market in Ulubari.
"There is a stark contrast in the prices in Guwahati and in other places in Guwahati. I couldn't find any vegetable below Rs 80 in the market. We the customer feel the brunt. There is something that happens when commodities reach Guwahati as I've noticed the prices are higher only in the city," said another.
One important thing that has been said by most of the shopkeepers is that the sales have dampened since COVID-19 spread. Many have cut their stocks that they earlier used to avail as the demands have also fallen short in comparison to previous years.