Guwahati: The Assam government may have formed a task force to tackle the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities but it is clear that their enthusiasm to keep prices in control is not being shared by wholesalers.
On Friday, the Assam government had decided to set up a task force to ensure that prices of essential commodities, especially onion, potatoes and mustard oil remain in check. The task force today visited Brahmaputra Bazar, a wholesale market at Lalmati to monitor and check prices.
A team of executives from the state food and civil supplies (FCS) ministry, legal metrology, and Assam Police, ordered shopkeepers to state the prices at which vegetables are being sold to customers.
“Most of the shops selling onion and potatoes have not kept a rate card on display which is mandatory as per government order. We have also noticed that the items are selling at a higher rate in comparison to the Pamohi, Gorchuk market,” said Altab Ahmed, food inspector at FCS department.
Ahmed is part of the government task force deployed by the FCS ministry and was present at Lalmati to monitor the prices of all vegetables available at the market.
All wholesale vegetable markets in Guwahati must abide by the rate card posted at Assam State Marketing Board’s Fruit and Vegetable Wholesale Market at Pamohi in the Gorchuk area, officials said.
“We have informed all wholesale markets in the city that prices of all items will have to match that of the market at Pamohi. Prices will have to be the same everywhere. If any shopkeeper breaks the law, we will not let them operate anymore,” stated Iswar Sarma, food inspector, FCS.
Sarma has notified all shopkeepers at the Brahmaputra market to fall in line with the government order and avoid further action.
However, shopkeepers tell a different story. Mohammad Usman Ali, a vendor at the market in Lalmati said that if he has to sell as per Fruit and Vegetable Wholesale Market at Pamohi, he will not make any profit.
“I bought cauliflowers at Rs 45 per kilo, and now they (government officials) have asked me to sell at the same price. I will incur losses if I follow their directive,” he mentioned.
Sellers at the market allege that there is a lot of discrepancy in the prices when compared to the Pamohi market. Items are bought from different markets around the state, so the prices also vary, and hence it is hard to maintain a uniform price, the vendors have stated.
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“Vegetables cannot be sold at a fixed price, it fluctuates every day. We have to pay for transport, labor, and sometimes even police officials ask for money. All this leads to an increase in prices. We also feel the heat along with customers,” said Mohammad Ayub Ali, a vendor at Brahmaputra Bazar.
Ali further mentioned that floods have negatively impacted their trade this year and feel that the demand from the government to follow the same price list is unfounded and baseless.
“We have been ordered to apply the same rates as Pamohi. How will we know at what rate vegetables are being sold at Pamohi. If there are problems at our market why are people still buying from here? Most don’t go to that market, they come here,” he added.
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