THE PUNJAB government has issued instructions to ensure adequate supply of essential items across the state, but villages next to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s new farmhouse here, where he resides these days, are not only facing a severe shortage of medicines and groceries, but are also being blatantly overcharged by traders.
The Indian Express team did the rounds of Parol, Pallanpur and Abhipur villages, which are very close to the CM’s house, and found villagers struggling to procure items of daily use, with no intervention from the district administration.
Tejvir Singh, a resident of Parol village, which is the closest village to Capt’s farmhouse, told The Indian Express that they were facing a shortage in supply of vegetables, adding that no door-to-door delivery of the same had taken place in the village.
“We have sufficient milk supply as it is produced in the village, but due to low supply of vegetables we are facing problems and no one from the administration has visited our village,” he claimed.
Kuldeep Singh, another resident of Parol, said there is only one small chemist store in the village, and even though it was open, it didn’t have adequate supply. “The government dispensary in our village rarely opens. As far as medicines are concerned, the villagers in this area are at the mercy of god,” Kuldeep added.
A short drive from Parol lies the village of Pallanpur, which had hit the headlines when the seven-star Oberoi Sukhvilas resort, owned by the Badal family, came up on the outskirts.
Ramandeep Singh, a resident, complained about the exorbitant prices charged by vegetable vendors. He said he was asked to pay Rs 100 per kg for peas and Rs 80 per kg for potatoes. “I do not have money to buy supplies at such steep prices. We have some stock of groceries at home and are managing with that. Aggey parmatma vekhega (rest is up to god),” he said.
Ramandeep also said no help from the district administration had reached them till now. All fields surrounding these villages are full of ripening wheat crop and the harvest will soon fill the granaries of the state and the country. But as of now, these farmers are themselves at the mercy of traders, who are fleecing them.
Further down the road from Pallanpur is Abhipur village, where Rinku, who runs a small grocery shop, says some wholesalers were charging very high prices from the village shopkeepers, following which they do not buy many items because villagers would not be able to afford them.
All that was available at his shop were a few potatoes, onions, cauliflowers along with some bunches of garlic, ginger and parsley.
“The wholesalers in Khizrabad village near here are charging Rs 170 for 1 kg rajma. Earlier we used to pay Rs 120 for the same quantity. We are paying Rs 60 per kg for onions, while earlier the rate was Rs 30 per kg,” Rinku said.
The shopkeeper further said that the wholesalers were charging Rs 100 for a half kg packet of ghee, despite the maximum retail price being Rs 53, as mentioned on the packet.
“The wholesalers tell us that we will have to pay the price they ask, else we can go back empty-handed. So we just buy what we can afford and also what villagers nearby can afford. There are some very poor families living here and in Mirzapur nearby. From where will they pay such exorbitant prices?” Rinku asked.
Asked about the issue, Mohali Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kuldeep Singh Chahal said he has issued instructions to all station house officers (SHO) of the district to take legal action against shopkeepers who were overcharging. “We will investigate the present complaint of overcharging too and take appropriate action,” he added.
Mohali Deputy Commissioner Girish Dayalan and Kharar Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Himanshu Jain were not available for comment.
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