Things stable on Wednesday, Centre asks officials to allay fears on availability of food, medicine, other key items
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a three-week lockdown on Tuesday night to prevent the spread of coronavirus, panicky people flooded the streets to purchase essential items. The mad rush made a mockery of the theme of social distancing. A day later, the Government’s focus shifted to providing essential items, including food, dairy products, medicine, etc, to millions of people across the country.
Things looked far stable on Wednesday. Grocery stores, sabji mandi, milk booths, chemist shops, ATMs, banks, petrol pumps and supply of LPG cylinders were open in most of the States and there was no shortage of supply.
Amid reports of panic purchase of essential commodities in some parts of the country, the Home Ministry asked chief secretaries and DGPs of all States to take action to allay apprehensions and maintain peace and tranquility, and inform people about the availability of food, medicine and other essential commodities. Meanwhile, the Home Ministry has asked State Governments to check the spread of rumours about shortage of food and other essential commodities.
While Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the Government is monitoring the availability of essential commodities in the market, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Centre is committed to ensure smooth supply of essential commodious and asked people not go for hoarding.
In a several cities, including Delhi and NCR, vendors were found selling fruits and vegetables on their carts. Petrol pumps were open and supply of LPG gas cylinders was operational. Mother Dairy outlets too were open. Safal, the fruits and vegetable brand of Mother Dairy group, has announced that all its outlets will be operational at full capacity.
Officials of Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) claimed that there was no shortage of fruits and vegetables. In Delhi, trading at the Azadpur Mandi, Asia’s biggest wholesale fruits and vegetable market, has come down by 50 per cent in the last two days in the absence of curfew passes to traders.
Meanwhile, top e-commerce sites Flipkart and Amazon have temporarily suspended their services. Flipkart has listed all products as “out of stock” on the search page. Whereas, Amazon will serve only products of high priority. Grocery startup Grofers too suspended operations due to lack of clarity in their listing as an essential service provider while supermarket chain Big Bazaar is continued to offer doorstep delivery services in several States, including Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai and Gurgaon, Ranchi, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Noida and States, such as Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.
In Jharkhand, the Government has released rate chart of various essential commodities after reports of a few ration shops providing commodities at a higher price while some others selling them in the back market taking advantage of the lockdown prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the rate-chart, pulse has been fixed at Rs 75 a kg, wheat flour between Rs 22 and Rs 32 per kg, mustard oil is priced between Rs 90 and Rs 95, rice between Rs 20 and Rs 24 each kg, refine oil between Rs 75 and Rs 80 and channa priced at Rs 60 a kg.
PM Modi’s announcement of a 21 lockdown from Tuesday midnight to combat the spread of coronavirus as the only way out to break the coronavirus transmission chain, led to panic-buying of essential items in different parts of the country. Vegetables, fishes, meat and eggs were sold at double the normal price.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh was the first State to announce home-delivery of essential items. Yogi said that more than 10,000 vehicles have been identified for delivering the essentials.
Despite the curfew, people in Punjab and Union Territory of Chandigarh moved out of their homes to buy essential items on Wednesday morning claiming that the authorities failed to ensure their home delivery as promised. While the authorities have fixed different time slots in all districts for the delivery of essential commodities at doorsteps, people at several places complained that they did not get the items especially groceries, fruits and vegetables.
The Goa Government is mulling a volunteer service for delivery of essential goods during the 21-day lockdown. The Jammu and Srinagar administration also decided for home delivery of public distribution system (PDS) ration to 1.60 lakh families in Srinagar and it will start from March 28.