GUWAHATI: All is not well with the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department that has failed to check the rise in prices of essential commodities. The shortage of manpower has badly affected the department's market monitoring mechanism.
A source in the department said, "The department has a total of 16 posts of Deputy Director. However, 12 of the posts have been lying vacant. It is not all. Seven of 21 posts of Assistant Deputy Director, 45 of 191 posts of inspector and 126 of 271 posts of sub-inspector have been lying vacant.
"Much to the satisfaction of consumers, the department has started monitoring prices in the market in Guwahati. However, the price rise is a statewide phenomenon. The shortage of manpower doesn't allow the department to monitor the markets elsewhere in the state properly. A large number of posts lying vacant at the grassroots level like inspectors and sub-inspectors can paralyse the monitoring mechanism of the department when prices shoot up all of a sudden."
Apart from allocation and distribution of commodities under the PDS (Public Distribution System), maintaining the overall stability of the general price level and monitoring availability and prices of essential items come under the prime responsibilities of the department.
However, sources in the department say that the department is not fully aware of the prices at which wholesalers buy various commodities. They rely on what the wholesalers say without verifying the ground reality, sources said.
The situation is no different in the case of retailing. The department has no clear-cut policy of profit margin that a retailer has to maintain, the sources added.