SRIKAKULAM/VISAKHAPATNAM:People have been facing a tough time getting quality rice at affordable price as the prices of all rice varieties have zoomed in the open market. As the government is not taking any measures to control the prices, the wholesalers and millers are havinh a field day by increasing the rate by Rs 5 to 6 a kg on all rice varieties.
What with the fuel charges having come down thrice during the past six months, the cost of rice also should have technically reduced. However, the opposite is happening right now. Though there is no scarcity of stocks, the price in the open market increased abnormally over the past one month. The traders in the region alleged that the millers in East and West Godavari districts increased the prices on the pretext that there is less stock of polished rice. The millers deny the charge however, stating that they did not increase the price at their end.
But the fact remains that this is the second time that the price of the staple grain shot up in the last four months in the region. The minimum price of rice per kg (lowest variety-semi polished) which was Rs 22 in June/July, is Rs 28 now. The fine quality rice ‘Old Sona Masuri’ which was Rs 42 a kg, is now selling at Rs 48. There are reports that the government’s subsidised Rs 1 a kg rice is purchased by middlemen and sold to the millers. The millers polish the same rice and sell it in the open market as ‘Sannalu’. The prices of all the Masuri varieties have increased in all markets, including hyper and super markets.
The price of a 25-kg bag quality rice ranged from Rs 550 to 650 in the retail market in June/July, now sells at Rs 650 to 700. Fine quality branded rice, which was Rs 1,050 in June, is now Rs 1,200. What is worse is, the traders forecast further hike in prices.
A leading wholesaler, G Venkatramudu, opined that the millers might resort to hoarding because of the poor monsoon. The millers expect low yields in the current kharif because of drought, leading to a crisis in paddy.
Though essential commodities and rice have gone out of reach of the commoners, the officials concerned are least bothered. No Civil Supplies or Revenue official has enquired about the price rise.
Visakhapatnam, joint collector J Nivas said that he would convene a meeting of wholesalers and millers. “Though the millers offer their share of levy rice to the government, it is no justification to sell rice at a high price,” Nivas Said.
Sources say that because of the millers in Godavari districts, traders increased the prices. In fact, the price of Srikakulam Sannalu, a local variety cultivated in Srikakulam district, has not increased much, while the rice varieties being imported from Kurnool, Nellore and Godavari districts shot up abnormally.
District civil supplies officer Anandakumar said that he would convene a meeting with the wholesalers and millers and control the prices of rice.