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Opp flays Govt over price rise

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, March 18 � The Assam Legislative Assembly today witnessed noisy scenes followed by a walkout by the Opposition members over sharp increase in the prices of all the essential commodities and the failure of the Government to control the prices.

In response to a question by Dr Kamala Kalita (AGP), the Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Dr Nazrul Islam today submitted a list of prices of the essential commodities with a comparative statement of the prices since 2001. From the statement, it came out that the prices of almost all the commodities, particularly that of the pulses and sugar, recorded sharp increase in the last ten years.

The retail price of masur dal (big), which was between Rs 21 to Rs 24 per kilogram in January, 2001, increased to Rs 56 to Rs 68 in December last year. Similarly, the price of masur dal (small) went up from between Rs 24 to Rs26 up to Rs 58 to Rs 70 during the same period. The increase of price of mug dal is even more sharp as the price of the same was between Rs 26 to Rs 28 in 2001 and went up to between Rs 70 to Rs 99 in December last year. The other pulses including arahar dal also recorded similar price rise, while the price of sugar went up from Rs 15 to Rs 41 per kilogram.

The Minister gave an account of the steps taken to control the prices and said that price rise has affected the entire nation and this can also be termed as a global phenomenon. He said that the cost of production has also gone up and the Government has increased the minimum support price of rice and wheat to give relief to the farmers. He revealed that the State Government has written to the Centre on several occasions to increase the quota of food items to be distributed through the public distribution system and the railway subsidy for transportation of food items to the NE region has been restored following demands from the Assam Government.

The Minister further informed the House that action has been taken against six traders � Rajkumar Surana, Kanahlal Banchali and Sunil Singh of Fancy Bazar, Md Nur Alam of Tezpur and Janata Saha of Silchar for their role in price rise.

Nor satisfied with the Minister�s reply, the opposition members alleged that the Government totally failed to control the prices of the essential items. Leader of the Opposition Chandra Mohan Patowary said that the Government is not at all serious in dealing with the situation. He alleged that the Food and Civil Supply Department is hand in glove with the traders and that is why the Government failed to control price rise. The allegation was countered by ruling party members and a heated war of words took place between the ruling and opposition members.

Several other members of the opposition also strongly criticized the Government for its failure to control the prices of essential commodities. Kamala Kalita said that the Government should admit its failure to control the prices.

Girindra Kumar Baruah (AGP) pointed out that the Government totally failed to provide food security to the people. He said that the State Government should ask the Centre to increase the quota of essential items for distribution through the PDS. Uddhab Barman (CPM) called for strengthening the PDS.

Later, all the opposition members staged a walk out from the House in protest against the failure of the Government to control the prices of essential commodities.

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