Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 24:
Odisha Government is taking steps to bring in Rs 50 crore from the Union Price Stabilizing Fund to rein in the ever-increasing prices of onions, potatoes and lentils in the state, said Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare Department Minister Sanjay Dasburma here today.
“The government has also made it mandatory for shops to display the amount of stock and prices of onions and lentils at the shops under Essential Commodities Act. Officials of Food and Supply Department are also conducting raids at different places to control black-marketing,” Dasburma said after a meeting with the traders at the state secretariat to arrest the price rise.
The sudden rise is being blamed on transport and supply issues. During their meeting with the minister today, the traders’ association advised the government to withdraw VAT from pulses to contain the prices to some extent.
“The supply of onions from Nasik has completely dried up. So far as pulses are concerned, harvest at Indian centres has been very little this year. The amount of lentils imported from Australia has not been satisfactory either. The demand is much higher than the supply and that is fuelling the price rise. The traders’ association today advised the government to withdraw VAT on pulses so that the prices can be brought down by Rs 5-7 a kilo,” said Secretary of Odisha Traders’ Association Sudhakar Panda speaking to reporters outside the Secretariat.
It may be noted that the prices of arhar dal and onions have been on the rise for the past couple of weeks. While the price of the widely used arhar still lies above Rs 150, price of onion hovers around Rs 60-70 in most parts of the state.
“Every political party promises to rein in prices before the polls and conveniently forgets it after forming the government. Everything is on a rise apart from our earnings. It is impossible to cook a meal without potatoes, onions and dals. Since we can’t stop consuming them altogether, we are procuring the stuff in smaller quantities,” said Birju Hembram, a customer in the southern Odisha town of Malkangiri where onion is selling for Rs 70.
Shop owners are not happy with the price rise either.
“The demands for onion and lentils has receded in last few weeks because of the price rise. We have stocks in our shop that is rotting owing to lack of demand. Consumers who used to buy 2.5 Kilos at a time are not buying even 500 grams anymore. We thus end up investing more for lesser return. Overall, it’s a no-gain deal for us,” opined a shop owner in the Western Odisha town of Sambalpur.