Prices of several essential commodities have surged between 20 and 200% in the four metros over the last 10 months, in one of the sharpest seasonal spikes that has sawn off a significant chunk of take-home earnings of the urban salaried class.
A back-of-the-envelope comparison by HT of current retail and wholesale prices (as on July 22, 2009) — released by India’s Price Monitoring Cell—with that of prices prevailing in October 8, 2008, reveals that the domestic food bill of urban families would have gone up by at least 20-25%.Prices have continuously soared in Chennai and Kolkata, followed by Delhi and Mumbai. Potato prices in Kolkata for example have shot up 200%, from Rs 5 a kg last year to Rs 15 now, making the Bengali delicacy of aloo poshto (a potato-based dish) very expensive. In Mumbai, potato is selling at 90% higher the price last October.
|BJP activists protest against price hike of essential commodities in Hyderabad. (PTI)|
The price of tur dal —a commonly consumed variety of pulses —has risen 70 per cent in Delhi and 97 per cent in Chennai between October 2008 and now.
Onion prices zoomed 20% and 40% in the past 10 months in Chennai and Kolkata. Sugar prices went up 35% in Delhi and 38% in Mumbai during the same period.
On Tuesday, Opposition MPs voiced concern, accusing the government of doing little.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, CPI (M) leader Basudeb Acharia demanded that the government convene a meeting of state food ministers urgently.
“Do you have a plan to tackle this,” BJP’s Venkaiah Naidu asked in the Rajya Sabha.
According to a statement made by minister of state for consumer affairs, KV Thomas, on Tuesday, a patchy monsoon, hike in fuel prices on July 1 this year and increase in demand have partly contributed to price rise.