Essential commodity and fuel prices fluctuate amid Covid-19 lockdown

While LPG prices reduce, fuel and grocery prices shoot up

FuelImage Courtesy:TOI

In the national capital, prices have gone up by 10% to 20%, multiple estimates show. This is despite the government’s assurance that vehicles carrying essential items are exempt in the lockdown. Speaking to India Today, traders a trader from Lahori Gate who gets supplies from Maharashtra, Chennai and Madhya Pradesh said, “Prices of pulses have gone up by Rs 10 to Rs 20 per kg. Retailers add a margin of Rs 20 to Rs 30 per kg and it results in common people buying at much higher prices.”

An employee with a grocery store there said, “Rates have gone very high in the wholesale market. Prices of dal, rice and four have shot up by at least 15% to 20%. Rice has gone out of stock as people bought in bulk after the lockdown was announced. Customers are complaining of high prices but we can’t do anything about it.”

In Mumbai, prices of pulses have approximately increased by up to Rs. 20 a kg. Showing the unpreparedness of the government, a store owner from Lalbaug said, “There are no loaders. There are no trucks. It is impacting business and prices are rising. There are many hurdles for us. Prices at main procurement centres and markets have risen. The government says transportation won’t be a problem but on the ground issues are different which haven’t been addressed.”  

The sporadic supplies have affected the prices. Prices for pulses have risen 5-8 per cent during March 15-April 3, for sugar by nearly 2 per cent, and for milk and loose tea prices at wholesale 2.4 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, data by the Department of Consumer Affairs showed.

Pulses see a special hike because people buy them in bulk when they know that the availability of vegetables and other essentials is going to be hit.

In West Bengal, fish prices soared due to the lockdown. Seeing this, the West Bengal Fisheries Development Corporation has now decided to allow people in Kolkata to order raw fish online. The corporation will also be selling fish in the city and districts directly from its vehicles.

Kerala too saw a rise in prices of vegetables. According to Manorama Online, shallots were sold for Rs 55 per kg last week, are now available for Rs 90. The price of onion increased from Rs. 30 to Rs. 50. Tomato prices doubled from Rs. 20 to Rs. 40 and for potatoes the prices went up to Rs. 38 from Rs. 26. Lemons saw a shocking jump from Rs. 48 to Rs. 85 per kg. The price of chicken, which was available for Rs 15 to Rs 45 per kg, is now sold at Rs 80.

In Jamshedpur, oranges were sold for Rs. 100 per kg, apples for Rs. 150 per kg, grapes for Rs. 60 per kg and bananas Rs. 60 a dozen. Consumers told The Times of India that shopkeepers kept jacking up prices and a variety of rice which was available for Rs. 42 last week was now available for Rs. 50.

Black marketing during this crisis too has increased and many city administrations have formed helplines which consumers can call and report to.

Milk producers are facing the heat too as milk prices fall due to a drop in demand and a rise in inputs like fodder, gram, straw, etc. The decline has been around 25 percent over the last month due to the closure of hotels, restaurants and roadside tea stalls. This has led to a fall of Rs. 5 – 7 per liter.

Talks of a staggered lockdown is making the rounds. Given the current volatility in the prices, what is in store for consumers ahead, only time will tell.

(Other sources – The Indian Express, Deccan Herald, Firstpost)


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