Snowfall has mounted problems for people in Kashmir Valley. Some lanes and by-lanes in Srinagar are still clogged up with snow while many areas in the hinterlands remain cut off even three days after it stopped snowing. The snow and landslides also closed Jammu-Srinagar highway and made the possibility of any reopening of Mughal road remote. The Srinagar-Leh stands closed officially from December 30.
A sudden collapsing of retaining wall of a key bridge in Ramban has led to the closure of the highway again and came barely a day after stranded traffic was cleared. As per traffic authorities, the thoroughfare, the most important one as far as ensuring supplies to Kashmir are concerned, is unlikely to reopen for “at-least” five days. The signs are ominous for people and in contrast promising for hoarders and unscrupulous traders. Already prices of all commodities in the Valley have sharply jumped. In particular, the prices of vegetables have skyrocketed and have reached a point of very hard reach for many people in the Valley. The pandemic hit-economy preceded by crippling lockdown post 5 August 2019 decision by the centre has made the contemporary prices harder for the common man. Inflation has been rising steadily but vegetable prices were all but manageable until recently. The malpractices greatly affect pricing. Hoarding, artificial dearth, and monopoly cause prices hike to the disadvantage of the common people. Unfortunately, there is an unhindered accumulation of huge capital in the hands of a few manufacturers, jeopardizing the interest of a common customer. The prices are fixed without any regard to the impact it has on the common consumer.
It is here that the government should come forward and streamline the markets especially in controlling factors that are associated with pure malpractices by some unscrupulous people. The government needs to face local challenges with a lot more authority than it is showing or lacking presently. At all levels, the government is responsible for safeguarding the interest of the common people. There is a full-fledged department, tasked with the duty of managing the prices of essentials. However, there are complaints that the concerned officials are not taking action against the errant which only encourages the former at the peril of consumers. The official machinery needs to step up efforts to give relief to the common consumer. Soon after snowfall started, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir ordered all line departments to crack whip on those indulging in malpractices like overcharging, black marketing or profiteering. The order need to be adhered to in letter and spirit by the line departments while higher-ups need to ensure it. At present it is observed more in breach than compliance.