The cyclone relief shelters in Odisha have fallen short of chura (flattened rice), a staple food in the state, despite chief minister Naveen Patnaik's claim that the state had enough food stocks for relief operations.
The state government has evacuated around 9 lakh people from
the seven cyclone-hit coastal districts, but is finding it difficult to arrange chura for the people huddled in more than 10,000 relief shelters.
Chura is missing from the local markets, thanks to hoarding by traders after threat of cyclone Phailin emerged in the state.
There have been complaints from many shelters in Ganjam district - the worst-hit by the cyclonic storm that struck the Odisha coast on Saturday night - that there was not enough chura to serve all residents.
"The government has ordered 2,000 quintals of chura from Chhatisgarh, but it has not yet reached Ganjam," said an official managing relief operations in the district.
"However, cooked food as well as dry food like biscuits and bread is being served to the people in shelters."
Odisha has a requirement of more than 10,000 quintals of chura for relief operations. The government had earlier bought 4,000 quintals of chura from local markets and another 1,700 quintals from West Bengal.
However, hoarding has pushed its price from Rs. 25 per kg to Rs. 70 per kg.
"We had to buy chura from a reputed food chain in Bhubaneswar at Rs. 60 per kg to take the stock to Ganjam," said a volunteer with an NGO, which is helping with the relief operations.
Union minister Srikant Jena slammed the state government for being unable to check the price rise of essential items due to hoarding.
"The Odisha government has failed in checking the prices of not only chura, but other essential items like potatoes, kerosene and candles," he said.
State government officials could not be contacted for comment.
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