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Vegetable market in sector-26, Chandigarh. (Express photo: Jaspreet Singh)

(Written by Jaspreet Singh)

With the onset of peak summers, and monsoons expected to hit the region by mid-July, the Tricity residents are braving heat, poor water supply, frequent unscheduled power-cuts and surge in prices of seasonal vegetable and fruits. The ongoing heatwave has also hit the flower industry, which is otherwise a booming business here. According to the India Meteorological Department’s forecast, isolated rains may bring slight relief next week, but there will not be much difference in the maximum and minimum temperature.

20 per cent rise in fruits and vegetables prices

Due to the scorching sun, vendors say, vegetables are rotting early. As a result, a marginal increase in prices of seasonal vegetables and fruits are adding to the residents’ woes. “There is about 20 per cent increase in the wholesale price of vegetables this month. Retail hike is only because of the heat wave and drastic change in climate. Vegetables corrode within a day because of the heat wave. Thus, it is having an adverse impact on the sellers too, because they have to sell the products within two days, otherwise the vegetables become stale and rots,” said Chander Shekhar, Sector 26 mandi supervisor for vegetables. Abbas, a native of Jammu and Kashmir, who deals in wholesale vegetables in Chandigarh said, “The price of onion is rising . Earlier the onion was Rs12 per kg, while it is now Rs16 per kg.” Chaman, who sells cherries, said, “You can see how the hot climate is affecting the cherries. I always try to keep fruits under shade but it is not possible to save the cherries in this hot weather.”

Flower supply and demand hit

“There is a sharp dip in demand of flowers, these days. Although there is not much increase in price, but because flowers are rotting in a day’s time, our wastage has doubled. Also, since it is not the wedding season, flowers’ demand is minimal. Hot weather further affects our business these days, since people do not get out of their homes. We have to extensively use air-conditioners to keep our flowers fresh. It adds to our expenditure,” says Karan, a florist in Sector 35.

“Due to the ongoing heat wave, customers are very less. About 70 per cent of the flowers that are coming this season are of poor quality. It is leading to a lot of wastage. Also, school vacations are going on and many people are out of the city on vacations with their families,” said another florist.

Maximum price of a best quality rose is Rs 300 and it varies according to the quality of the flowers. A lesser quality of rose is priced at Rs 100. The other prices of rose vary from 150 to 250. Similarly, carnation flower, which is one of the favourites of the buyers and blooms the most in summers, has recorded a dip in its price because of the hot weather. Earlier, a bundle of carnation flower cost Rs 250, but now it costs 100 to 150. The price of Marigold in April was Rs100 per kg in April and the price nose-dived to Rs 50 to 60 per kg in June. However, it is expected to shoot up to Rs 150 to Rs 250 per kg in July.

Electricity and water pangs

“We are suffering from extremely inadequate water supply. Due to the hot weather, the demand for water peaks in the months of June and July. However, the supply in our sector is very erratic these days. The water-pressure is also low, making it difficult for people living on the first and the second floors,” said BS Jatwani, a resident of Sector 38-C.

Harminder Singh, a resident of Kharar said, “This year we are facing acute power shortage. A lot of unscheduled power cuts are happening. A few days ago, we did not receive power supply from 10 pm to 6 am. Unscheduled power-cuts have become a daily affair in Kharar.”

In the absence of adequate water supply, residents in several areas are depending on water-tankers. “We hardly get any water supply in our area. We have to depend on water tankers. Many days, our children have to go to the school without bathing, because there is no water. We can not afford bottled-water. Thus, we depend on water-tankers. We boil the water we get from there and then use it for drinking,” said Sudesh Kumar, a resident of Ram Darbar.


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