Soaring Vegetable prices

By Kunzang Chosdol May 02, 2018
Ruth Mary, Assistant Director, FCSCA Department, Leh: Department of Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs not only involves in the distribution of essential commodities namely rice, wheat, sugar, kerosene oil under public distribution system but also supervise different stocks in the market. The department also checks and demands the required commodities such as petroleum products, building materials, medicines etc. We also supervise and issue rate list for the daily fruits and vegetables.
The price fixation committee comprises of concerned departments including Municipal Committee, Cooperative Department, Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs and the head of vegetable sellers. The chairman of the committee is Moses Kunzang, ADC, Leh.
This year, the national highway opened one month prior as compared to the last year. All kinds of vegetables, fruits and meats are available in the market but there was an issue of rate list this time. Last year, the price fixation committee under the chairmanship of ADC charged same rate list for the necessary commodities as of the previous year. But this year, we have made minimal changes in some basic need commodities such as cauliflowers, tomato, onion etc.  Whereas, the rates of most of the goods were kept the same as earlier.
Fixing the rate list prior to the opening of the road or before reaching Leh is not possible because we have to look into the freight charges incurred to reach Leh, the unpredictable opening of the road and also the rate of vegetables in wholesale market (Mandi) of Srinagar regularly goes up and down. So keeping all these in mind, the rates of the fruits and vegetables are fixed after reaching Leh. By the time the new rate list is prepared, vegetable sellers are asked to sell the agro products on the last year’s rate list.
However, in Leh, the rate of vegetables and fruits are fixed for one season while in other parts of the country the rate varies from time to time.
The rate list is applicable to all the vegetable sellers of Leh district, be it the local, non-local, urban and rural sellers. The local vegetables have a very limited growing season because of which the local sellers don’t follow the rate list. We don’t stress much on them, keeping in mind the short term growing season of vegetables in the district and on the other hand with the opening of the national highways the rate of local vegetables immediately comes down thus compelling them to sell on a loss.
To inspect the market we have formed four squads or enforcement team in Leh. Each team is headed by one Tehsil Supply Officer who checks the market regularly in summer and alternatively in the winter season.
It is mandatory to frame and display the rate list in the shops of all the vegetable sellers. The public should check the rate list before buying anything. The habit of going through the rate list needs to be inculcated among the public to avoid malpractices by the shopkeepers in the market.
If we talk about the traders who sell vegetables and fruits in trucks we cannot assure the quality. They move around the places, sell the goods and return back thus, it is the responsibility of the public to analyze and check the quality and price.
If anyone neglects the rate list and charge more than the consumer should contact the department after which immediate action will be taken against the particular seller.
We carry out challan on the basis of the products. If we found someone who is selling substandard goods or rotten things in the market we charge penalty under the Essential Commodities Act, FIR is also filed against the person who violates the law.
•   Awareness is foremost important.  People must understand the consumer rights and complain if they come across shopkeeper charging above the price list. They can contact and complain on 01982- 252376 the team will be sent to check and take action against the violators.
•   Before buying people should check the rate list of vegetables and fruits. 
•   The department is not responsible for the quality assurance of vegetables and fruit sold from private trucks.
Bashir Ahmed, President, Kashmiri Vegetables and Fruits seller of Leh: From the last two years, the rate list for vegetables and fruits has remained same in Leh. This year, a huge loss is incurred by the seller as we have to sell most of the items at a low cost. For instance, this time we brought the mangoes at ₹ 200 per kg from Srinagar itself but we are bound to sell at ₹ 80 per kg in Leh also the muskmelon was brought at ₹100 per kg but sell at ₹ 50 per kg.
The concerned department should fix the rate list earlier so that we can bring those items which are profitable. However, we brought around 30 numbers of items which are of first quality products.
After the opening of the road, for the first week, most of the shopkeepers have to bear ₹1 or 2 Lakh losses as the rate was not fixed on time.
The department can fix a temporary rate list for first ten days which can be changed and fixed afterwards so that both the seller and customer are benefitted.
On the other hand, vegetable sellers from Bihar and in vehicles moving around places have been posing threat by selling the poor quality of vegetables and fruits at lower rates among the public. The private truck vegetable sellers bring items of low unchecked quality and rates. They sell small-sized and rotten eggs defaming the entire vegetable sellers in the district.  Because of them people point us and alleged for making substandard goods available in the market.
These sellers don’t have to pay transportation charges at all and there is no restriction and proper check on them. Meanwhile, we have to pay ₹9/10 per kg for the fruits and vegetables brought in the mini truck and ₹40,000 for the big truck.
There is a need for strict checking and control over them.
No vegetable sellers among us sell the goods beyond the rate list provided by the department. If we hear about anyone who violates the rule we take action accordingly. We have the format of displaying the rate list in the shop compulsorily by every seller and people must check before buying any items.
•    There is a need to check and control over the vegetable seller from Bihar and in private truck moving around the places.
•    The rate list can be fixed earlier. If they cannot fix permanent rate list they can at least make temporary rate list for a week or ten days.
•    People should check the rate list before buying the items.