Opp. walk-out over price rise issue

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Guwahati, Jul 17 (UNI) The Opposition parties today staged a noisy walk-out in the Assam Assembly, dissatisfied over Food and Civil Supplies Minister Dr Nazrul Islam's reply on the issue of price rise.

The Opposition raised the matter of sharp increase in prices of essential food commodities, questioning the sincerity of the state government in checking it.

They pointed out that prices of essentials, including rice, pulses and mustard oil, had doubled in the last two-six months, while building materials and other such commodities had also registered sharp rise in price.

They alleged that the hike in prices of goods owing to increase in petrol and diesel prices, which led to rise in transportation costs, was not commensurate with the hike in petroleum goods.

Alleging that the government had no control over the traders, the Opposition stressed on the need for a Group of Ministers to regularly monitor the price of goods, especially as Assam is a 'consumer state' dependant on others for all its essentials.

Leader of Opposition Chandra Mohan Patowary pointed that the state had recorded less than two per cent agricultural growth, while it was almost nil in case of industries.

Rubbishing the chief minister's claims of high growth, he said, ''Besides lack of security of life and property, we also suffer from lack of food security''.

The Opposition leaders demanded to know the minister's initiative for revamping and cleansing the Public Distribution System (PDS), whose 'failure' had contributed significantly to price rise and steps taken against traders under the Essential Commodities Act.

Minister Dr Islam, in his reply, blamed global inflation for the hike in prices in the state, adding that transportation costs had worsened the situation.

He, however, failed to inform the House on steps towards revamping the PDS or provide data on people booked under the Act.

The Opposition parties claimed that the minister was only trying to justify the price rise but failed to enlighten on steps taken to control the situation and staged a walk-out.

Besides the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the other Opposition parties, including BJP, AUDF and Left, participated in the discussion.

UNI SG PL/src1447

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