Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Market parasites

From Joint Action Committee(JAC) to Public Action Committee(PAC) etc all of which have undertaken the difficult job of exposing the abnormal and unacceptable artificial manipulation of market prices in Dimapur ; the ultimate end is for the civil administration to prove that it is alive, functional and responsible and accountable. What has been read and discussed about in the recent years is why are prices of various commodities in Dimapur costlier when compared with that at Khatkhati or Bokajan. However, even if there are price escalations, these are within the permissible limits of 5% to 6% after a period of one or more years. In extreme cases and in case of acute shortage and huge demands, the price could rise by 10% at the most over a year or more. However, in Dimapur, prices soar high as a routine matter to above the normal and that too within a short period of two or three or six months. Prices of items at Dimapur market are higher than at nearby Bokajan and Khatkhati , under Karbi Anglong district, Assam. Khatkhati is around 8.2 kilometers while Bokajan is around 17.4 kilometers from Dimapur. The difference of market prices between Khatkhati/Bokajan and Dimapur does not make sense. In addition, bulk purchases also mean reduction of wholesale rate particularly since storage godowns are part of the business promotion cycle. To cite an instance, the price of one 50-kg bag of cement (Dalmia, Star)etc at Khatkhati is around Rs.475 to Rs.480 whereas , it is sold for around Rs.490 per to Rs.500 per kg at Dimapur. Prices are expected to follow a rational norm and should be determined on the basis of percentage and not lump sum slab. To illustrate this, one can look at how the price of a 50 Kg bag of cement continues to rise in Dimapur. Even steel rod(M.S.Round) exhibited a similar trend. In Khatkhati, some 8 kms from Dimapur, MS rod is available at Rs.62 per quintal, while the same brand is priced at Rs.72 per quintal in Dimapur. Prices of various items in Dimpaur has been taken care of by;’sharks’ in the form of illegal tax or in the form of syndicate. In general, public are quick to blame various political groups of being responsible for the unnatural hikes. Even after withdrawal or closing down of various check gates to prevent various armed groups and civil society organisations (CSOs) from indulging in illegal collection of taxes; various government agencies and other CSOs have set up mobile check posts to continue with collection since illegal income is too good to be true. Over and above these invisible check gates, customers and public of Dimapur cannot escape from the clutches of the predators who further add woes under the control of syndicates. In reality, syndicates in Dimapur are nothing less than self-styled illegal and super authorities who appoint dealers for various items on payment of extortionate amount and ensure that non-syndicate dealers are not allowed to operate freely. This is one of the main reasons for the high cost of various items in Dimapur in comparison with the price of various items at Khatkhati or Bokajan. Check gates may have been dismantled but those who have been milking the market have better and more ingenious ways to ensure they rule the market.

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