Government Struggles to Keep Black-marketers, Price Gougers at Bay

A vegetable shop in Patna.

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Patna: With the entire country in a 21-day lockdown amid the threat of coronavirus, price gougers and black-marketers have mushroomed almost overnight across the state capital charging as much as four times for essential items like fruits, vegetables, and other day-to-day grocery items.

The district administration claimed that it was taking tough measures to curb any price gouging going on in the city besides getting strict with any black-marketer.

"Those who are found to be engaged in selling products at a higher than their normal price will be dealt with strictly," said Patna District Magistrate Kumar Ravi.

Traders, however, say that with the complete shutdown of the country including strict restriction on the movement of vehicles, vegetable and fruit shop-owners are unable to pick up produce from the wholesale market or from rural areas.

"Those who are willing to take risk of driving during this Bharat Bandh are asking for exorbitant prices thus forcing the sellers to raise their price as well," said Bansi Yadav, a vegetable vender in Anta Ghat.

Asking the government to step in, leaders of the Bazaar Samiti Fruit and Vegetable Vendor Association in Patna said that the administration should make arrangement for safe transportation of essential items from the wholesale market to the vegetable 'mandi' in order to keep prices in check.

"If not controlled now, things will only get worse in the coming days. It could also lead to riots and loot of the vegetable market," Yadav said.

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