Bandh fallout: Commodity prices soar up

Kathmandu, February 6:

When it comes to common people’s woes — be it sky-rocketing market price, scarcity of daily commodities, tampering of taxi meters, monopoly in fares or adulteration of food items — none, including the government and the political parties, is ready to take responsibility.

A bitter reality is that it has been a common trend for the market price to sore unexpectedly high when a political party announces a bandh, leaving people helpless.

If you are visiting a greengrocer or a meat shop, ask for the “current” price before weighing the product, or your budget might fall short to pay for it. Tejendra Kafle of Old Baneswor said he was shell-shocked when the butcher asked him for an additional thirty rupees for a kilogram of chicken. “The price has gone up due to the bandh” was the straight reply when Kafle asked the reason for the hike.

Same is the case with green grocers. “We have walked all the way from Thimi with this heavy load of vegetables,” said Sami Khadka, who sells vegetables in New Baneswor. Ignoring the query of this correspondent, a harsh-voiced Khadka shouted: “You are free to decide whether you buy or not...we, too, have paid extra bucks due to a shortage of vegetables.”

Arjun Prasad Aryal, spokesperson of the Kalimati Fruit and Vegetable Development Committee, however, ruled out any shortage of vegetables. “Forget about shortage, green vegetables have started to rot in Kalimati,” he said.

Asked what influenced the price hike, he said, “The reason could be lack of flow of vegetables in the retail market from Kalimati.” Green vegetables, including beans, cauliflower, cabbage, peas, among others that have been brought to Kathmandu from Dhading, Chitwan, Kavre, and Makawanpur in “huge quantity” have started to rot in the wholesale market in Kalimati, he said.

Forget about vegetables. Passengers of buses and micro-buses plying today had to pay extra fare of Rs 3. “They (bus conductors) made me pay Rs 10 today,” said Lokesh Singh of Anamnagar.

President of the Consumers’ Forum Nepal, Harendra Shrestha, accused the government of “mismanaging” the consumer products. “Fine, the retailers take the utmost advantage of bandhs, but the government should think beforehand to ensure that there is no price hike of the commodities,” he said putting all blame on the government for mismanagement and the Maoists for not considering the common people’s woes.