Arbitrary vegetable prices earn consumers’ ire

By Our Reporter

 SHILLONG: Vegetable prices in Laitumkhrah market have just shot up in recent time. There are two types of bitter gourd (Karela) the Khasi and Dkhar variety. The former sells at Rs 120 a kg, the latter at Rs 40. No one is sure if there is a difference of nutritional value between the two.

Consumers bitterly complain that there is no one to check the arbitrary pricing of vegetables in Laitumkhrah market. This reporter found that the difference in prices of vegetables in Iewduh and Laitumkhrah is exactly 100 per cent.

Most consumers said they prefer to go to Iewduh but those having no time are compelled to depend on Laitumkhrah which in recent times has earned the sobriquet of ‘the elite market’. Even fish costs double the price it sells in Iewduh.

One Ms Arabian Sun said the new potatoes are selling at Rs 10 a kg in Iewduh whereas the same is priced at Rs 15-16 in other markets.

A Laban resident said that green peas which are selling at Rs 40 a kg in Iewduh is selling at Rs 80 in Laban and Laitumkhrah.

In Laitumkhrah market apart from cauliflower, most vegetable items are priced double. “Onions, brinjal, tomatoes are all selling at Rs 30/kg in Laitumkhrah, whereas these vegetables are exactly half the price in Iewduh,” said a tailor from Nongrim Hills.

Ms B Lyngdoh a teacher said, “I want to know the economics behind the double pricing regime of Laitumkhrah market and what triggers this inflation?”

Consumers like her also from Laitumkhrah questioned what the authority is doing as the vendors are simply looting the consumers in broad daylight.

“How can they charge double for every item? Is there no pricing committee to keep a check on these pirates (vendors)?” fumed another resident of Laitumkhrah.

Irate consumers said that during the time when the price of onion shot through the roof, Laitumkhrah market was where it sold at the highest price.

“Onions reached here Rs 80/kg. This is an exclusive expensive market,” lambasted a retired school teacher.

Meanwhile, many consumers say Iewduh is still a reasonable place for shoppers even though prices of vegetables in Shillong are comparatively high.

“The new brinjal is priced at Rs 15/kg onwards whereas winter vegetables like Kohlrabi (German Turnips) are Rs10/kg,” said a resident of Jhalupara.

In Iewduh capsicums are priced at Rs40/kg and smaller varieties at Rs70/kg. Cauliflower sells at Rs20/kg, onions cost Rs 20/kg.

Many consumers are now demanding that Government should set up a farmer’s market where the farmers’ can directly sell their produces to consumers and eliminate the middle-man/woman. This they said would benefit both the farmers and the consumers.