CHENNAI: Milk packets cost between Rs 50 and Rs 100. One candle costs Rs 60. Two mosquito coils cost Rs 50. The prices of groceries at the city’s shops convey the magnitude of the disaster that struck it.
Shortage of supply, and opportunistic shopkeepers have made life miserable for the public. But desperate people didn’t mind emptying their wallets as stocks vanished from shops. “We paid Rs 50 for a half-litre milk packet on Friday. Some people bought milk in bottles to supply at Saidapet, even though it was costly,” a homemaker from Saidapet said.
“An Aavin supplier said he had a stock of only 10 packets. His stock was sold out within two minutes. But many people are selling milk packets on the roadside at Rs 50 each,” said a shopkeeper at Kodambakkam.
Candles were sold at unimaginable prices. In areas like Mogappair, where the power supply was cut for the last several days, candles were sold at Rs 60 each. Mosquito coils were sold at Rs 25 each.
On Wednesday, major retail chains, bakeries and eateries downed their shutters as they ran out of stock. Seizing the opportunity, other shopkeepers hiked up their prices in some pockets of Saidapet. “We bought a loaf of bread for Rs 50,” said an IT professional who hails from Nellore in Andhra Pradesh.
Bachelors living alone in the city were the most obvious victims, as eateries were closed and shops were out of bread. “No vegetable is available for less than Rs 50 per kg. I will cook only variety rice and upma until the rains stop and the prices reduce,” says Gayathri, a resident of T Nagar. For people of lower income groups, the only option left was the community kitchens that have sprung up across the city.
Tomatoes, which were sold at Rs 20 per kg by retailers, were later sold at Rs 80 per kg. Beans, which were priced above Rs 50, now cost Rs 140 per kg. Brinjal, earlier sold at Rs 40 per kg, now costs more than Rs 100. “The problem is that very few trucks entered the Koyambedu market. Less than 120 trucks went in. On Wednesday, we had more than 400 trucks, but then the number dwindled to 100 or 120,” said a market management committee official.
As the rains subside, traders expect prices to down. “It all depends on the rains and the availability of vegetables in the market,” said a trader. Onions, which were initially sold at Rs 25 per kg, are now being sold at Rs 40 per kg.
However, bananas are cheaper than before. In some places, Sevallai is being sold at Rs 30 per kg. In retail, this fruit is being sold at Rs 10 per piece. Similarly, prices of other fruits like oranges have come down drastically.