THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Hours after the country went into a complete shutdown in the wake of Covid-19 spread, the state capital faced an acute shortage of vegetables which led to steep rise in prices on Wednesday. At major markets like Chalai, Palayam and Peroorkada, the price of vegetables is shooting over the roof. The vendors are taking customers for a ride and they are cashing in on the opportunity amid the crisis. Within 24 hours, the price of vegetables increased by Rs 20 to Rs 30. The vendors said the sudden hike is due to the shortage of supply from Apta market and Vadassery in Nagercoil. For instance, the price of onion is different at various markets. At the Chalai market, the price is Rs 95 per kg while at Balaramapuram it is Rs 70.
At Neyyattinkara, the price is Rs 36. So it is clear the vendors are exploiting the current scenario and charging exorbitant rates. “We have no option left but to buy vegetables without bargaining. It is true that vendors are exploiting us. The government should do something soon to rein in the price of essential items,” said Sumathi, a housewife at Neyyattinkara. On Tuesday, the price of onion at Chalai market was Rs 60. The price of tomato increased from Rs 20 to Rs 40 per kg while the price of green chilli shot up from Rs 28 to Rs 45. The same increase in price is seen in the case of beans and potato. Similarly, many vegetables, including carrot, brinjal and cabbage, are unavailable in markets.
According to M Prabhakaran Nair, a vegetable vendor at Neyyattinkara, the shortage of vegetables from Tamil Nadu has affected the sales by and large. “There is a big shortage of vegetables. So we are not getting adequate supply. Even wholesale vendors are setting a high price for various items. But we are selling at nominal rates only. The acute shortage of vegetables may result in shutdown of vegetable shops soon if things go like this,” he said. The lack of adequate number of Horticorp outlets also adds to the crisis. At present, only 21 direct outlets of Horticorp are functioning in the district.
Over 20 truckloads of fruits and vegetables arrive in the district from other states daily. With transport coming to an abrupt halt due to the lockdown, the losses will be massive. On Tuesday, the state police registered cases against those who violated the shutdown rules. Most of the cases were registered in Thiruvananthapuram district.
Talks to be held with Kanyakumari collector
District Collector K Gopalakrishnan said he would hold discussions with the Kanyakumari district collector to ensure hassle-free transportation of vegetables to the district. “I am holding talks with my counterpart in Kanyakumari as many vegetable vendors here depend on markets in Tamil Nadu. There is a shortage of vegetables and it will be solved soon. So there is no need for panic buying and we won’t allow anyone to increase the price,” he said.