The state government has failed to protect the consumer rights as the authorities allegedly have close pecuniary contacts with the bread makers of Kashmir, consumers claim. Without any approval from the government, bread makers here have raised prices on their own.
A group of consumers said that breads priced at Rs 5 and 10 are only available in the market while the government approved rate for the breads are Rs 2.50 and 5 weighing 52 gram and 104 grams respectively. The breads consumed generally with salt tea in valley including Lawaasa, Tschwor and Girda are now available at the cost of rupees 5 or 10.
Consumers from Srinagar city complained that that "on one hand bread makers have brought down the weight of breads and one other hand they have hiked the prices". "In winters people mostly take salt tea while as non availability of breads costing less than 5 rupees has caused chaos in the general public," said a consumer.
“I went to buy bread early in the morning for my family. I was shocked to find that no bread costing less than 5 rupees was available,” said Mukhtar Ahmad, a consumer, adding, “This way they are compelling us to buy bread on exorbitant rates. We’re six members in the family and thus I have to buy breads costing 60 rupees for morning tea,” he added.
Ishtiyaq Ahmad from Old City of Srinagar said that "if authorities fail to maintain the previous prices of bread, people would come on streets to protest to express their anger". “Government first came up with LPG cap, then hiked the electricity fee, made kerosene oil non available. Now it is giving discretion to bread makers to fix prices of their own choice,” said Ahmad.
Bread makers allege that the costs of the commodities used in bread making has gone up since last two years. “Prices of wheat and fire wood has gone up from Rs 1500 to 2100 and from Rs 400 to 950 respectively,” said a bread maker.
Chairman Kashmir Floor Mills Iqbal Tramboo while supporting the action of bread makers said that government should once again start providing flour under bread makers' quota on subsidy as the price of fire wood and wheat has gone up.
The state would earlier, many years back provide flour to bread makers at subsidized rates.
"The government could revive this kind of an arrangement so that this traditional bread making is encouraged and given its due place and recognition. In the meantime the regulatory authority should enhance the prices corresponding to the increase in prices of ingredients and firewood. Revision of prices would only be fair and just,” Trumboo said.
“The Food Corporation of India has revised and hiked its prices of wheat three times during the current year. Poor bread makers of Kashmir have seen their earnings continuously and speedily dwindling especially this year and many of them have started slowly cutting on their productions and looking for alternate sources of earnings," he claimed.
The apathy of the government could bring an accelerated end to this traditional delicacy and our new generations will not ever know that Kashmir could once easily compete with France in varieties of the bread and fresh and fragrant smell of the dough in its streets, he added.