QUETTA (NNI) The holy month of Ramazan is round the corner and price hike has been witnessed in majority of the places across the country. It has become a norm that instead of providing relief during the holy month of Ramazan, a sudden increase in the prices of essential items becomes effective. According to reports, lentils, spices, dates, and other food items are sold at high prices. The shop owners blame wholesalers for the increase in prices while the public blames price control committees for not performing their duties properly. Vendors and shopkeepers charge enormously on daily items and people are forced to buy due to unavailability of any substitute option. Expressing concern over the price hike of essential items, especially chicken, fruits, vegetables and other food items, people have urged the government to take measures to control the situation before start of Ramazan. They were of the view that a mafia had started black-marketing which would seriously affect prices in coming days. The government should evolve a strict check and balance system at Ramazan bazaars and Utility Stores to provide relief to the people. Shopkeepers said that all national and multi-national companies selling essential food commodities such as sugar, spices, tomatoes, chicken, white chickpea (dal safed chana), brown chickpea(dal lal chana), flour, potato, red chilli and gram flour have increased prices of these items by 15 to 30pc. In the open market, the per kilogram price of brown chickpea increased from Rs70 to Rs80, white chickpea from Rs130 to Rs150, mash pulse (dal mash) from Rs150 to Rs160, green gram (dal moong) from Rs155 to Rs165, red lentil (dal masoor) from Rs115 to Rs120, and brown black-eyed pea price increased from Rs95 to Rs120; sugar is being sold at Rs76 per kg. In Quetta, 15-30 per cent increase in prices has been reported before Ramazan including lentils, rice, fruits and vegetables. According to vendors, price hike is due to the increased prices of petroleum products that increases the cost of transportation and as a result, people have to buy commodities at high prices. District administration of Quetta is facing problems in keeping prices under control due to the absence of price magistrate. However, teams have been constituted in order to conduct raids to control prices at food stalls. However, people said the government is busy in its politics and has made no arrangement for Ramazan. They said that the government has failed to control prices of daily food items, despite several announcements in this regard.