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Price rise back to haunt Assam

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  1 May 2016 12:00 AM GMT

With Dispur not taking the call,

KMSS-AASU go on warpath

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, April 30: It's that time of the year again when an impotent State government finds itself in the dock over skyrocketing prices of essential commodities.

With consumers feeling the pinch, the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity (KMSS) has already taken to the warpath while the All Assam Students Union (AASU) too has announced an agitatiol programme.

While the State government has been invariably blaming the "price rise at source", observers point to Dispur's perennial failure to curb price rise with long-term measures and over-dependence on market mechanisms. It is time to have a look at what the State government did to tackle the mece over the last few years.

Year 2012: Under fire, the Congress government in the State entrusted the Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development to study the market mechanism and come up with a comparative alysis of prices in Assam and neighboring states. The institute submitted its report, and the government has been sitting on it ever since.

Year 2013: The State's Food & Civil Supplies department undertook a drive - after a series of meetings with stakeholders - forcing retailers to sell some essential commodities like milk and edible oil at prices lower than the MRPs. This after the department found that the profit margin for retailers were as much as 60 per cent in some products. That measure too was short-lived.

Year 2014: Following unprecedented rise in prices of onions and potatoes, the Agriculture department had set up booths for selling the vegetables at subsidized rates. The booths have gradually vanished. After much effort, the Supply department was able to bring potato under the category of essential commodities. But that move failed to regulate its price.

Year 2015: In the wake of dizzying rise in prices of pulses and cooking oil, most other commodities too became costlier. There were wide price differentials from one retail market to another with no visible attempts by Dispur to regulate matters. Allegations were rife that in an election year, all kinds of illegal syndicates were being given free run in the markets to fleece customers and hand over lion's share of the spoils to politicians. When Food & Civil Supplies minister zrul Islam was asked the reason for the continuing price rise, he replied, "Perhaps you should put this question to Modi".

At other times, the minister trotted out his stock answer: "The prices have soared at source. The government cannot do anything".

Like every year, the Kamrup metropolitan administration has again forced teams this time to conduct raids on hoarders and unscrupulous traders. The raids are continuing, but prices are yet to go down.

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