Mutton forms an important and inalienable part of the diet chart in Kashmir Valley. For the last several days, the availability of mutton has been very scarce. If available, the quality is very inferior. Last year in March, the administration fixed the retail price of mutton at Rs 535 per kilogram without offal and Rs 490 with it. It had ended four month-long disagreement between the government and the mutton dealers then. The mutton dealers have resorted to old-tactics and non-availability of the mutton needs to be addressed when the month of Ramazan is round the corner. The dealers have been already selling the mutton at Rs 600 against Rs 535 fixed by the government. Now they reportedly seek a rise in the price.
Earlier the mutton dealers were selling it around Rs 500 per kilogram but with the advent of covid-19 and shutdown forced by it, the prices went up and the dealers would sell it at Rs 550 and then at Rs 600. A forum claiming to be representing the dealers then said that Rs 600/kg was rational given the rates outside the J&K.
A ‘fact-finding committee’ formed by the dealers to examine the mutton rates across India had lent support to the claims by the dealers, saying that retail dealers in Kashmir procure “grade-A” quality at higher rate per kilogram. The government earlier warned them against overcharging and even announced to go tough against them. Of late though, there is no word or action by the administration in ensuring the availability of the mutton, that too quality one.
The consumers are certainly caught in the tussle of sorts and most people have no way to enforce what has been fixed even as they want mutton prices far lesser than what they are made to pay. There is no doubt that people would in all situations want the prices to come down given the fact that the lesser the prices the better the deal. The government while fixing the price last time stated that representatives of the dealers were consulted. Besides, the technical team of the Sheep Husbandry department presented a “realistic scenario” of the production cost of the mutton industry as regards how much the retail rate should be even after ensuring the dealers get their due profit. After taking all these aspects into consideration, the new retail rate of mutton was fixed, the government maintained. Within one year into new rates fixed by the administration, the commodity has become rare and beyond reach. It has started to vanish from the markets. Both sides need to work out the issues and ensure that the commodity is available to the people.