DEHRADUN: At a time when people of Kumaon region in Uttarakhand are picking up the pieces in the aftermath of a rain-triggered disaster, blocked roads and spiraling fuel costs have pushed the prices of vegetables to the stratosphere.
Tomato prices across the region soared beyond Rs 100 from Rs 45-55 a week ago. The prices are unlikely to cool down anytime soon as the blocked roads in the region have throttled the supply lines, even creating a fuel shortage. Commissioner of Kumaon division Sushil Kumar said relief works are being carried out on a war footing, with priority to opening routes and helping the affected in all the six districts of Kumaon.
A fair picture of the ground situation can be drawn by taking into account the prices of tomato, apple and petrol in the six districts of the division. Be it Pithoragarh, Almora, Champawat, Bageshwar, Udham Singh Nagar or Nainital, tomato hovered in the region of Rs 100-120 a kg, while a similar quantity of apple could set one back by Rs 100-125. While tomato was cheapest in Bageshwar (Rs 70 a kg), a litre of petrol there could cost as high as Rs 119. Petrol was cheapest in Champawat with a tag of Rs 100.46 a litre.
Vikram Singh Chadha, president of Hills Petroleum Dealer Association, attributed the price rise to choked roads. “No supply of petroleum tanker has been received in Kumaon districts in the last four days due to the heavy rains and landslides. Similarly, the supply of vegetables, too, was hit. Once the routes open, there will be some relief,” he said. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited the disaster-stricken areas in Chamoli on Friday and announced to donate his one-month salary to CM Relief Fund.
Death toll touches 68
Meanwhile, the death toll in the disaster rose to 68, with Nainital reporting the most deaths. Dozens of connecting roads are yet to be cleared or are broken beyond repair for now. Officials said relief work is on but it will take time to rebuild the damaged infrastructure across the region.