Women’s groups flay Manmohan’s remark

Special Correspondent

Prices of essentials spiralling out of reach of the average household

No steps taken to stop hoarding and forward trading in food grains

NEW DELHI: Women’s organisations have condemned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that prices were ‘under control,’ saying this added insult to injury at a time when the prices of all essential commodities were spiralling out of reach of the average household.

The escalating prices, particularly of food grains, pulses, onions and other vegetables, milk and essential medicines, are drastically affecting poor women, a joint statement issued by various women’s groups said here on Monday.

The United Progressive Alliance government has systematically reduced the food subsidy in every budget: by Rs. 2,000 crore in the 2006 budget and then by Rs. 600 crore in the 2007-2008 budget.

It is now considering a proposal for hiking the prices of food grains for the BPL and APL cardholders, cutting allocations to both sections and also cutting down the food grain component in all employment generation schemes, the statement said.

State quotas of wheat and kerosene have already been reduced. An increase in petroleum prices is on the cards. The government has refused to take any steps to stop hoarding and forward trading in food grains.

Due to these policy measures, price rise continues to threaten the already compromised budgets of the majority of households, the statement said while demanding that the government take stern action against black-marketeers and hoarders, ban speculative forward trading in essential commodities, universalise the Public Distribution System and increase the budgetary allocation for the PDS.

The signatories to the statement are: the All-India Democratic Women’s Association, the Centre for Women’s Development Studies, the Guild of Services, the Joint Women’s Forum, the National Federation of Indian Women and the Young Women’s Christian Association.

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