Residents say overcharging rampant in Noida, vendors blame limited supply for hiking pricesUpdated: Mar 26, 2020 23:23 IST
Second day into the national lockdown and people in Gautam Budh Nagar are already facing a shortage of essential items. While they were seen standing in long queues outside provision stores and were being overcharged for essentials, especially food items. The district administration officials said they are monitoring the situation to keep shopkeepers from increasing the prices of essential goods during the 21-day national lockdown. However, residents of several sectors said they are being overcharged by vendors anyway.
“To keep people from going out we asked a fruit and vegetable vendor to set up a shop inside our society. Even the has increased the prices of certain commodities; For example, tomatoes which were sold at ₹55-60 per kg earlier are now being sold at ₹70-80 per kg,” Amit Gupta, a resident of Prateek Wisteria, Sector 77, said. “ Prices have definitely gone up, and when we question the vendors, they come up with multiple excuses to justify the increase in prices,” he added.
Residents said apart from paying higher prices, they have also stopped getting any kind of discounts from local grocery stores unlike before.
“Earlier, when we bought items like wheat and pulses certain brands, the shopkeeper would give us a 5-10% discount, but now we don’t get any discounts. Moreover, prices of potatoes and onions have gone up by at least ₹15-20,” Rajesh Sahay, Sector 50 resident, said. “We have no option but to buy the vegetables at higher prices, so nobody even argues with the vendor. However, if people continue to mint money at the expense of others, the price hike will affect the people from low-income groups severely.”
Vendors, however, argue that the prices have gone up as the back-end supply of perishable items has reduced significantly. “Very little produce is reaching the mandi (markets), so there is a shortage of most fruits and vegetables taking their prices up. If we increase the prices significantly then either people don’t buy the commodities or we have to answer to government officials. So we have increased the prices slightly because we don’t have an option either,” Pappu, a vegetable vendor in Sector 77, said.
Residents believe that they will have to continue paying inflated prices unless the gap between demand and supply reduces.
Not very long ago, with the onset of the Covid-19 outbreak, people had to pay inflated prices for masks and hand sanitisers. The government had to intervene after which these items were put under the list of essential commodities and their prices were capped.
The district administration officials said they are working to ensure people are not inconvenienced. A shopkeeper was fined ₹25,000 on Wednesday for not displaying the price of commodities at his store in Sector 46.
Similarly, another shopkeeper that sells essential goods in Sarfabad, Sector 72 was fined ₹25,000 on Thursday for keeping his shop closed. Residents of the area had made multiple complaints against the shopkeeper for not opening the store despite having plentiful stock of goods.
The district magistrate(DM) had earlier said the administration is monitoring the situation closely and will take action against anyone found violating norms. “However, closure of shops is not an option at this time as in some areas they remain the only source of getting essential items for people. We are, however, working to ensure that people don’t face any issues,” DM BN Singh had said earlier.
Awanish Awasthi, additional chief secretary (home), Uttar Pradesh, on Thursday said the UP chief minister had given directions to officials for taking tough against hoarders. “There have been six FIRs which have been lodged under the Essential Commodities Act. We are also considering charging such people under the National Security Act,” he added.