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On cue from subsidy,market stoops to conquer

In three weeks since the state government rolled out outlets across the city to sell vegetables at subsidised prices

Written by MANASI PHADKE | Mumbai | Published: July 31, 2013 1:45 am

In three weeks since the state government rolled out outlets across the city to sell vegetables at subsidised prices,the difference between the market prices and government’s discounted prices for most essential vegetables has steadily shrunk.

When the scheme was first launched on July 9 with 10 such outlets,the prices there were roughly 30 to 40 per cent lower than retail rates. However,with the subsidised prices now having risen slightly for certain vegetables and the market prices having reduced,the difference has diminished to 10 to 15 per cent,as per store owners of the subsidised vegetable centres.

The state government dispatches a price list for all the 24 items that are part of the subsidised vegetables scheme to all shops on a daily basis. As per Tuesday’s price list,okra was being sold at Rs 48 per kg,while the market price was Rs 50 to 60 per kg. Brinjal was being sold at a subsidised price of Rs 36,while the market rate was Rs 50-60 per kilogram,and carrots were sold at Rs 24,as against the market rate of Rs 30-40.

In the case of some vegetables,subsidised and market prices were almost equal. For instance,while the price of onions as per the state government’s list was Rs 30 per kg on Tuesday,the retail price of the commodity was Rs 30-32. Similarly,the subsidised price of potato was Rs 15/kg,while the market rate was between Rs 14 and 16.

“Even though the scope of these centres is limited,as they are open for just four hours,it is definitely pressuring market prices in the area,” said Kishor Desai of Supari Baug Madhyavarti Grahak Sangh,which runs a subsidised vegetable shop each at Lalbaug and Parel.

There are more than 80 centres that sell vegetables at the state government-prescribed subsidised price in the Mumbai metropolitan region. Of these,27 are set up and operated by the state government or volunteer groups,the rest are operated by supermarkets that have pledged to sell vegetables at the government’s rates. The subsidised vegetable centres get the day’s supply by 3 pm and operate between 4 and 8 pm.

“Initially,most vegetables were sold out by 7 pm. Now,the demand has more or less stabilised with more centres being set up. The entire supply is sold by 8 pm,but people don’t have to go back disappointed,” said Anil Gangan,chairman of Apna Bazaar,which manages nine subsidised vegetable centres.

However,vegetable vendors claim that the state-run subsidised vegetable centres have not pinched their pockets as they are fewer in number and their regular customers still continue to buy their household requirements from them. They attribute the fall in market prices to the increased rain and better supply of vegetables.

“Our prices have certainly fallen,since the beginning of July,but it is mainly because during heavy rain,the shelf life of vegetables is shorter than usual. So,we have to sell entire stock. To do that,we have to lower the rates,” said Dayaram,who owns a vegetable shop in Sion.

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