Congress-led UDF Opposition members today staged a walkout in the Assembly accusing the state government of failure to check the spurt in prices of essential commodities, especially rice. Countering the opposition charge, Food minister P Thilothaman asserted that effective steps had been taken to control the price rise. "The situation is not as bad as alleged," he said. He said Rs.446 crore had been provided for sale of subsidised essential commodities through the outlets of state civil supplies corporation in the last eight months. As a measure to check price rise during the coming festival season of Onam, the minister said it was planned to open 1470 Onam markets across the state that would sell essential items at a reasonable price. Besides the corporation outlets, the state-Consumerfed also would open 3500 markets during the festival season, he said, adding, the Horticulture Corporation would operate 2000 vegetable stalls. Though price of rice stood at a high rate during the last three months, it has come down and is now in the range of Rs.35 to Rs.40 (per kg), he said. A trade deal to bring the rice variety necessary for the state from Andhra Pradesh has been finalised, the minister said. Criticising the minister for the price rise, the opposition said he had failed in tackling the situation and wanted the issue to be discussed as an adjournment motion in view of its "seriousness." Seeking leave for the motion, T V Ibrahim (IUML) said the state government was not serious about the issue and alleged that hoarders and black marketers were also operating without fear. But, Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan disallowed the motion after the minister's reply following which the UDF staged a walkout. Before walking out, Leader of the opposition in the assembly Ramesh Chennithala said: "Government failed to control price rise and the situation will become worse in the coming festival seasons of Onam and Bakrid." The GST implementation has also worsened the situation, he added.
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