Odisha government admits helplessness in controlling soaring prices of essential commodities

Traders claim misleading information from government officials is worsening the situation for consumers facing high prices on essential goods.
Soaring prices of essential commodities cripple the common man.
Soaring prices of essential commodities cripple the common man.Photo | Express

BHUBANESWAR: As soaring prices of essential commodities cripple the common man, the state government on Monday virtually expressed its helplessness to come to the rescue of consumers by stating that price regulation is beyond its control.

Taking a review of the prevailing prices of essential commodities for the second consecutive day on Monday, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Krushna Chandra Patra said the government has no control over prices as Odisha is dependent on other states for the items.

The minister told mediapersons that Odisha largely depends on Assam and West Bengal to meet its potato requirement while Maharashtra is the major source market for onions. The state is now sourcing onion from Andhra Pradesh where price is ruling high.

Patra attributed the spiralling prices of potato in the state to rising cost of the tuber at source markets. He said the department is contemplating to go for market intervention through central agency National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) to stabilise prices of potato and onion.

However, general secretary of Kuberpuri Byabasayee Sangha, Shakti Shankar Mishra gave a completely different picture. He said the wholesale price of potato in West Bengal is Rs 1,800 per quintal but Odisha traders are buying the tuber at Rs 2,100 to Rs 2,200 per quintal. The retail price of potato should be ideally Rs 26 per kg but it is now selling at Rs 35 a kg. The minister said onions are now procured from Nashik in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh at Rs 2,900 per quintal, traders are selling the commodity at Rs 40 a kg which include the transportation cost of Rs 4 per kg and their profit margin. The actual retail price across the state is Rs 45 per kg.

On the other hand, Mishra said onion is coming from Ahmednagar, Aurangabad and Nashik where the wholesale rate is Rs 2,500-Rs 3,000 per quintal depending on the quality of products. The wholesale price of onion in Odisha is Rs 32-Rs 34 per kg.

General secretary of Odisha Byabasayee Mahasangha, Sudhakar Panda said, “Government officials always try to mislead the ministers who blindly believe them without verifying facts. None of the governments has ever trusted the traders who are always seen with suspicion. Traders or trading associations are never consulted on how to deal with the rising prices of essential commodities.”

Panda said there is a steep rise of Rs 600-Rs 700 on a quintal of rice when Odisha is a rice surplus state. The price of rice has jumped from Rs 3,000-Rs 3,100 to Rs 3,700-Rs 3,800 per quintal. Similarly, wheat and its products have witnessed a price rise of Rs 200 per quintal, be it atta, maida or suji. Edible oil has also increased by Rs 5 to Rs 15 per litre.

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