VIJAYAWADA: As the temple authorities failed to implement the norms related to the sale of commodities at maximum retail price (MRP) and terms of the lease agreement, the shopkeepers at Sri Durga Malleswara Swamy Temple atop Indrakeeladri are continuing to sell the commodities at prices far higher than MRP.
There are 16 shops atop Indrakeeladri Hill, which sell all the materials required for performing the rituals for Goddess Durga. These shops also sell other commodities like water bottles, cool drinks and other beverages, but at immoderate prices. The devotees who visit the temple have no other option, as the officials pay a deaf ear to their problems.
“The MRP of a half-litre soft drink is `30, but I bought it for `50 here. The shopkeepers do not answer even if we question and rudely tell us not to buy if we are not interested to pay the price they quote,” said Y Sai Krishna, a devotee from Gollapudi.
Another devotee pointed out that the officials are not vigilant enough. “It is not that the officials are unaware of this issue. Not only beverages, sometimes even the coconuts for the rituals are sold at higher price. The officials are aware of this, for it has been happening for a long time now. But, they just ignore it,” observed Sobha Lakshmi, a regular visitor to the temple.
Vijay Kumar, in-charge of the leases department, which looks after the shops at the temple, said that the commodities have to be sold at MRP, as per the norms. “Except for the fancy items, other commodities in the 16 shops have to be sold only at MRP. Devotees or visitors can register a complaint at the enquiry counter, if such incidents take place,” said Vijay Kumar. He added that action will be taken immediately against the vendors who do not sell the products at MRP.
Some devotees also complained that many water bottles sold at the temple do not have MRP labels on it. “Sometimes, we can’t even question the vendors as the bottles do not have any price label. We just buy the bottles in a hurry to quench our thirst,” said another devotee Pushkar.
When the issue was taken to the executive officer’s (EO) notice, he said that they are ready to take actions if any such complaints are registered. “We serve notices to the shopkeepers and seek an explanation for not selling the commodities at MRP. If the vendors fail to provide a reasonable answer within 10 to 15 days of notice, we cancel the license of that shop,” said temple EO V Trinadha Rao.
He added that they have put up notices for the benefit of the devotees quoting the price of the coconuts. “If any vendor charges more than the prescribed rate, serious action will be taken against them. We will be more vigilant to prevent such incidents to happen any further,” he concluded.