Thanks to skyrocketing prices of food articles, the Wholesale Price Index (WPI)-based inflation has shot up three-and-half times in just one month to stand at 4.78 per cent in November.

In October, the WPI-based inflation stood at 1.34 per cent. Officials now fear that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) forecast of a six per cent inflation rate by March 2010 is not far from the mark.

While Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee attributed the rise in the inflation rate as concomitant to shooting food prices, officials in his ministry maintained that the escalation was on expected lines and saw no reason to apply emergency measures as of now.

According to the monthly inflation data released on Monday, food inflation shot up by 19.04 per cent in the fourth week of November, the highest in over a decade.

Potato prices shocked people mounting by 141 per cent over the last eight months, sugar by 37 per cent and pulses and onion followed suit rising by 32 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

During the month, food items such as urad became dearer by 24 per cent, moong by 14 per cent and chicken 10 per cent. Rising prices of potato and onion too pushed up prices of fruits and vegetables higher by three per cent.

Saving grace

Processed food and skimmed milk became pricier by 15 per cent while oil cakes turned more expensive by 12 per cent. Coffee and sugar brought no relief of palate becoming costlier by three per cent.

The saving grace was minerals, edible oils, and leather products which turned cheaper since March.

Reacting to the numbers, Mr. Mukherjee said that the rise was more evident in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) on account of the greater weightage to food items than in the WPI.

On the other hand, Union Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla said that the government had not been taken by surprise by the rise in the inflation rate.

While ruling out any emergency measure, Mr. Chawla underlined the government’s concern over rising prices and said that steps were under way to contain it.

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