Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala on Saturday accused the State government of failing to take any major effort for market intervention to keep the price line down in the run-up to Onam that was just two weeks away.

In a sharply worded letter to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy that in a way reflected popular sentiments on price rise during the Onam season, Mr. Chennithala pointed out the recent trend of inexplicable rise in prices of certain commodities, including chicken, rice, pulses, and vegetables. The steep rise in prices had added to the misery of the people, particularly the lower income group.

“The government should not delay its primary responsibility of saving the people from the financial gloom by using all resources at hand. For this, the government can take immediate action on two main issues – make available essential commodities at controlled rate through market intervention by Consumerfed, Supplyco, and Horticorp and strong action against hoarding and black-marketing, besides making display of pricelist mandatory,” he said.

Mr. Chennithala, while prescribing in his letter certain steps to be taken to tackle price rise, was quite harsh in criticising the government for its failure to organise Ramzan-Onam fairs, which would be on only for 25 days. He said essential commodities were sold at 15 to 60 per cent below the prevailing market rates during last year’s Ramzan-Onam season. This year, this was pegged at 30 per cent below the prevailing market rates.

Mr. Chennithala’s critique of the government’s record on the price front should be viewed in the context of his recent lamentation that the party was not being consulted on key policy issues. Even though the letter focusses on the failures of the Civil Supplies Department, it indirectly holds the Chief Minister responsible for the situation.

Mr. Chennithala pointed out that the State government had failed to release Budget allocations to Supplyco and Consumerfed. These organisations should be allocated more funds, he said.

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