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Coronavirus lockdown: As panicky public hoards, vegetable prices soar in Hyderabad

Though the concerns of citizens were not unwarranted, their flocking to markets may have diluted the whole point of a curfew in the first place.

Published: 24th March 2020 10:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th March 2020 10:00 AM   |  A+A-

Citizens form a seprentine line outside D-Mart at Malakpet on Monday People buy vegetables at Monda Market in Hyderabad on Monday Motorists queue up near a petrol bunk in Hyderabad People throng a lane in Koti which has several medical stores A man drives off with a huge load of essentials on his scooter in Hyderabad | Vinay Madapu, sathya keerthi, RVK Rao

By Express News Service

HYDERABAD: With the State being placed under a week-long lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19, denizens flocked to supermarkets, kirana stores and petrol bunks to hoard essentials on Monday.

It may be mentioned here that State government has permitted just one person from every family to step out of their homes to buy essentials from 7 am to 6:30 pm. Though the concerns of citizens were not unwarranted, their flocking to markets may have diluted the whole point of a curfew in the first place. People were seen crowding outside several markets on Monday, violating the purpose of social distancing.

Consequently, vegetable prices increased fourfold in Rythu Bazar and other markets in the city. This is despite abundant stocks being available in these markets, according to sources. It is learnt that the prices of onions are skyrocketing yet again. Buyers are worried that the vendors may block the stock to further hike the prices.

In a few areas, agitated buyers were seen arguing with vendors over the sudden spike in prices. At Rythu Bazar, the prices displayed on the boards were starkly different from the selling prices.

Last week, one kilogram of tomatoes was sold for Rs 10, onions for Rs 25, potatoes for Rs 25, brinjal for Rs 15, and okra for Rs 30. These are now being sold at exorbitant prices — double or triple the existing price. In fact, some people who had gone to markets to hoard vegetables had to return empty-handed due to the cost.

“As there’s a surge in buyers, the vendors have increased the prices from 200 to 300 per cent. The vegetables, namely coccinia, okra, bottle gourd, cabbage, beans, capsicum, potato, and carrots, were sold at normal prices on Monday morning. In no time, the prices were increased by the vendors themselves,” said B Lakshman, a customer at Erragadda Rythu Bazar.

Garine Swathi, another buyer said, “Earlier, for Rs 100, I bought at least 2 to 3 kg of different vegetables. Now, I cannot even buy half of it with the same money. The State government should take measures to control the overpricing.”

District Collectors warn vendors against hiking vegetable prices

Taking advantage of the lockdown and the subsequent panic over stocks running out, vendors across the State have increased the prices of vegetables. In Adilabad, for instance, middlemen who buy the produce from farmers at low prices are making huge profit by selling them at exorbitant rates in markets.

District Collector A Sridevasena visited Rythu Bazar in Adilabad on Monday and held discussions with vegetable vendors to prepare a price chart. In Sangareddy too, Collector M Hanumanth Rao had visited markets to inspect the prices.

“Don’t create an artificial scarcity of good to sell them at higher prices,” the Collector told vendors. “We will register criminal cases against those who sell essentials at higher prices,” he added

Committee constituted to check soaring prices of essentials, says Chief Secretary

Hyderabad: The State government is monitoring the markets in the State and will take necessary action against vendors who sell essentials at exorbitant prices, said Telangana Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar. “A committee has been constituted by the State government comprising officials from Civil Supplies, Agriculture, Horticulture and Marketing department. They would discuss the matter of soaring vegetable prices and take necessary action against persons involved in the same,” he said. He further said that the State government was monitoring the situation closely and would take all the necessary steps to bring the vegetable prices under control. “Stringent action would be taken against those found selling vegetables at higher prices,” he added

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