Prices of essential household commodities are 25 per cent higher now than they were this time in 2006.
Data from the Price Monitoring Cell of the Department of Consumer Affairs — which tracks 15 essential commodities from 18 centres across the country — reveals this alarming rise.
Even though inflation is down to 3.2 per cent, the price reality continues to bite. But then the inflation rate is based on the Wholesale Price Index of 450 items — not just milk and eggs, but also petrol and steel.
Household budgets have gone awry. For instance, Swapana Dasgupta, a resident of Mayur Vihar, is spending 20 per cent more on household items every month.
In Delhi, mustard oil costs almost 20 per cent more and milk is Rs 2 per litre more compared to last year. But the Oscar for the biggest jump goes to onions — from Rs 9 a kilo to Rs 23 in the last year. A rise of more than 150 per cent.
Wheat, a staple for most Indian households, is selling almost 10 per cent higher than in the same period last year. Analysts fear that wheat will be costlier as the government is importing 5,11,000 tonnes of the grain at Rs 16 a kilo, against the Rs 8.5 a kilo procurement price it paid to domestic growers.
Even the prices of pulses are moving north — arhar dal costs
Rs 4 more. India is a major importer of pulses and prices of these items have been shooting up internationally, as in the case of wheat.
Manohar Singh, an East Delhi grocer, says his customers are buying less than usual. “There is a 25 or 30 per cent dip in sale of pulses and oils,” he says.
The one sweet spot in this grim picture is the steady decline in price of sugar, from Rs 21 to Rs 16 a kg.