How aware are consumers in Assam and other states of the Northeast? Take Guwahati for instance, supposedly the gateway to the region. Customers in the city are presently shelling out minimum Rs 50 in different markets for every kg of onion. Retail traders trot out the same old excuse — that unseasol rains in onion growing areas of the country has damaged the new crop, so onion shortage is contributing to the price rise. Customers grumble loudly, then blame the civil supplies minister for letting all kinds of hoarders, black-marketers and syndicates corner the markets at will. Surely the minister concerned and his department has a lot to answer for. But are consumers in the city keeping track of the drive being carried out by the district administration in different markets? Apart from fixing prices of onion and potato, all markets have been directed to prominently display prices on boards. Traders have been warned to limit their profit margin to Rs 6 for every kg of onion. Accordingly onion from Rajasthan and Bihar going at wholesale rates of Rs 36-37 at Fancy bazar, should be selling at Rs 42-43 in retail markets. Onion from West Bengal is costlier, but still should not be selling at more than Rs 47. But retail traders are not only setting higher prices, they also brazenly flout administration directives to display prices compulsorily on boards. So should not consumer forums or youth and social organizations in every locality force local markets to display price lists? They spend their energies on so many issues — should they not constantly keep watch on the prices front, which after all hurts their wallets? Because of their iction, not just onion from outside — most vegetables grown in Assam too are selling at highly inflated prices in the city.
food for thought