Guwahati, January 15, 2011: Although the whole country is engulfed in a major issue over inflation, traders in Manipur are literally calling the shots, fixing prices at their sweet will.
However, the State Government has no mechanism to monitor prices of goods.
In such a scenario, the public has no idea about who and how prices of goods are being fixed.
A random survey conducted by The Sangai Express in Imphal city found that prices of most of the commodities are being fixed by wholesalers.
At Khwairamband Keithel, onion is sold at Rs 70 per Kg while garlic costs Rs 180 per Kg.
One vegetable vendor Bimola said that she used to sell onion in retail after purchasing the merchandise from wholesalers in smaller quantities instead of purchasing onion in bags as very often rotten or damaged onions were found inside the bags.
As onion imported through Moreh are less popular, most of the retailers are dealing in Indian onions though it is costlier, Bimola said.
One grocer said that onion is available at Rs 64 per Kg at his grocery.
The same onions are bought from wholesalers at Rs 57 per kg.
But the price never remains fixed.
One day it would cost Rs 56 per Kg and next day it would cost Rs 58 per Kg.
Depending on the flexibility of the wholesale price, retail price also changes.
However, prices of dal varieties have come down.
One kilogram of mung dal costs Rs 75, mairongbi Rs 75, mangal Rs 28, sagolhawai Rs 80 per Kg and mukshori costs Rs 55. Sugar now costs Rs 40 per Kg.
Pulses (Hawai Tharak) which was sold at Rs 30 a kg about a month back now costs Rs 45-50 at Khwairamband Keithel.
Sometimes, it rises up to Rs 60 per Kg.
However, prices of pulses are not uniform at different market sheds.
One shopkeeper named Manojkumar who runs a shop at Alu Gali said that one kilogram now costs Rs 57 as against Rs 55 which was the price just eight days back.
This vegetable item was sold at Rs 30 to Rs 45 per Kg about two/three months back.
This escalation in price is the due inflation being witnessed all over the country.
A grocery shop in Khwairamband Keithel area
Again prices of goods in Manipur are dependent on transportation charges, Manojkumar said.
On being enquired at Jain Company and Sunil Company which are wholesale dealers in edible goods including onions, Jain Company said that they have not been receiving onion consignments for the last many days and that there was no onion in stock.
Sunil Company said that they have stopped dealing in onions in wholesale since months back.
Consumers’ Club Manipur president P Arunkumar conceded that prices of all commodities including edible items are being fixed by traders.
The Government of Manipur should set up a price fixation committee to control prices but there is no such committee in Manipur, he informed.
The Weight and Measures Department has also ceased functioning and no one is checking whether cash memos are being given to customers or not.
Consumers’ Club being a voluntary organisation has no authority to fix prices.
The club is only for creating awareness among consumers and addressing their grievances, Arunkumar said.
However, for petroleum products like petrol, diesel, kerosene and LPG, due initiatives have been taken up to set up Sub-Divisional Level Price Monitoring Committees as per an order issued by the Home department to monitor prices of these products and to check unauthorised hoarding.
But after 11.3 Kl of diesel hoarded by one Ningombam Meghachandra of Kakwa (Singjamei PS Leirak) without storage licence was seized on November 18 last year by the Lamphel Sub-Divisional Level Price Monitoring Committee under Essential Commodities Act 1955, the same committee has apparently ceased functioning since then.
The committee is headed by SDO Lamphel as chairman.
SDPO Lamphel, Imphal West SDC (Central), Sub-Divisional Agriculture Officer Lamphel, president/secretary of Consumer Club Paona Bazar and Assistant Director (CAF&PD) Imphal West are its members.
According to an order issued by Imphal West DC K Radhakumar, the committee should monitor prices of all essential commodities after undertaking inspection drive in markets.
The committee is also empowered to raid godowns to check unauthorised hoarding.
The committee should also submit weekly reports to the Imphal West DC and the Imphal West SP.
However, the Lamphel Sub-Divisional Price Monitoring Committee is, at present, concentrating only on petroleum products, disclosed a member of the committee.
This is in accordance to an instruction from the Union Home Ministry which directed the committee to monitor prices of only petroleum products, the official member added.