Govt must intervene in veg price rise

After the initial shock of the dramatic rise in onion prices, a couple of months ago, it does not come as a jolt to hear of vegetables costing between Rs 40-50 per kg. Tomatoes also saw an increase in their rates but then came down to Rs 45, which even seems reasonable to us, inured as we are to paying through the nose.

But we should not have to put up with it. As the “common man” played by Naseeruddin Shah in the film A Wednesday says, “We become used to things very quickly.” We assimilate changes, work our lives around them, and soon, the changed scenario is the norm.

Be it a revised fare schedule, a changed bus route or amended timings. Mumbai citizens are a battle-hardened breed and take most things in their stride.

But why should it be so? We are talking about things like onions, potatoes, tomatoes and now garlic — not luxury food items. These are staples of the Indian diet and deserve to be priced within reasonable bounds. Fruits are already in the ‘luxury’ category for many. We should not allow tomatoes and potatoes to follow suit.

It is not only fluctuating weather and crop problems that lead to high prices — hoarding and profiteering by middlemen also contribute to raiding the consumer’s wallet. Farmers are not the ones raking it in.

The price of a commodity is not some autonomous entity that changes arbitrarily and is not open to influence. It is very much controlled by agencies, but there is no reason why this control cannot be supervised.

Surely, the government is not going to stand by and watch while everything costs more and more, and eventually, even a balanced diet is out of the average citizen’s reach?

The move to sell vegetables at affordable prices in government-run outlets was successful, but lacked reach. It needs to be a sustained, long-term and broadened initiative if it has to make any difference to the general market.

Daily life is difficult enough in our megapolis. Of the classic three basics — roti, kapda and makaan — housing is already through the roof, clothes are not cheap; at least, let us ensure that food is not priced out of our reach.

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