The Assam government on Saturday launched a vegetable fair price shop and a mobile sale centre ostensibly to counter price rise.
“Price rise is a global phenomenon, but there are ways to provide respite to the people within the constraints,” said Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. “Making essentials available at reasonable prices through a mobile service is a step in that direction.”
The initiative of vegetable fair price shops and mobile sale centre was taken by the Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board. It has come at a time when the Opposition and students’ bodies have been railing the government for its indifference to price rice.
Prices of essentials have increased by 30-45 per cent over the past three months, more than 100 per cent in the case of potatoes and onions. “The government has given unscrupulous traders a free hand,” said All Assam Students Union advisor Samujjwal K Bhattacharyya.
But Gogoi scotched allegations of inactivity. “We are keeping a close watch on price rise and have accordingly instructed the district authorities and food and civil supplies department to act tough on whoever is taking advantage of the situation,” he said.
He added that the problem has compounded because of low productivity dictated by climatic conditions. “The demand-supply ratio has widened to a great extent. That is why our government has taken up a slew of programmes like Mission Pulses aimed at increasing productivity,” he said.
Assam, the chief minister reminded, is an agrarian state and the backbone of its economy is agriculture. “Our government wants to ensure that farmers get the right prices for their produce and that is why it has upped its ante against middlemen who are trying to make hay at the cost of the farmers.”