The rising prices of essential commodities in retail markets are hurting the common man, who is already battered by job loss, pay cuts and lack of commercial activities amid the Covid-19 crisis.
Rice, pulses and other kitchen essentials have turned much costlier since the nationwide lockdown was imposed — rates of green gram, green peas, Bengal gram and rice have gone up by Rs 5-40 per kg. Prices of vegetables like onion, tomato and garlic have also increased by Rs 10-50. What’s worse, even construction material, liquor, cigarettes and transport have become more expensive.
“You name any commodity, there’s a hike. Even bread is dearer by Rs 5 to 10. Shop-owners seem to be in a hurry to make up for the losses incurred during the lockdown. However, the government has done nothing to prevent fleecing by traders,” said R Venkatarao, a chartered accountant and business analyst.
A a bag of cement which used to be sold for Rs 270-300 now costs Rs 380 to Rs 400. Steel prices have seen a 10-15 per cent jump post lockdown.
The increased cost of public and private transport is also burning a hole in the common man’s pocket. Private bus operators have been given permission to increase fare by 15 per cent as they can carry only 30 passengers at a time. “It is true that operation of buses with restrictions is not viable for private operators but what about the common man,” asked Basavaraj Patil, a regular commuter between Bengaluru and Belagavi.
Smokers and tipplers have been hit as prices of cigarettes and liquor have gone through the roof. While shops increased cigarette prices by 70 to 100 per cent, government hiked liquor rates. “Many shops are selling cigarettes at higher prices and the authorities have turned a blind eye,” said Mahantesh, a resident.