GUWAHATI, March 24 - Prices of commodities, including vegetables and fruits shot up on Tuesday amidst reports of hoarding by unscrupulous traders as panic buying among consumers continued ahead of the eight-day lockdown declared by the State government to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The unpreparedness of the food and civil supplies department came to the fore as many groceries ran out of stock even as they complained that traders were hoarding stuff like rice, potatoes and onions.
�The State government earlier directed the officials to closely monitor high prices and black marketing, but it failed completely. It only shows laxity on the part of the government,� a buyer said.
�People are paying high prices mainly for the vegetables. Even I paid Rs 10 for a single lemon. It was total chaos in the market during the day,� he added.
Big crowds were seen in the markets right from early morning on Tuesday. People rushed to the market ignoring the call for social distancing. �Will the groceries open during the lockdown?� a woman enquired while buying grocery items.
Meanwhile, cabbage sold for Rs 60 per kg, tomato for Rs 60, onion for Rs 40, potato for Rs 40, cauliflower for Rs 60, peas for Rs 50, carrot for Rs 40, beans for Rs 120, squash for Rs 40 and bitter gourd for Rs 100 in many areas of the city. These rates were nearly double compared to the rates that prevailed on Saturday.
Some packaged stuff were also being sold at prices higher than the MRP, citing high prices in the wholesale market.
�It is a good idea to buy for a month. No one knows what will happen tomorrow; whether grocery will be available or at what prices commodities will be sold,� another buyer said.
�Sales have gone up by 50 per cent in the last two days. People are buying double the quantities of what they usually buy of items like rice, wheat and pulses,� a shop owner said.
People were also seen queuing in front of the gas agencies in the city to procure LPG cylinders.