Coronavirus in Ludhiana: Poor supply leaves grocers scrambling to meet order rush

Updated on Mar 28, 2020 02:27 AM IST

Improper supply of food grains from wholesalers, limited number of workers, and no experience in providing home delivery services are the issues they are facing in timely delivery of products

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Hindustan Times, Ludhiana | ByAmarpal Singh, Ludhiana

Amid curfew in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, grocery shop owners in Ludhiana are receiving over 500 orders a day but do not have the bandwidth to ensure timely delivery of essential commodities to residents. Improper supply of food grains from wholesalers, limited number of workers, and no experience in providing home delivery services are the issues they are facing in timely delivery of products.

The rain on Friday added to the woes of grocery store workers as they couldn’t deliver the goods to residents.

With the existing bandwidth, shopkeepers are being able to deliver products only a day after an order is made.

Ashok Kumar Gupta, the owner of Rikhi Mega Mart, Basant Avenue, said they do not have experience of delivering products from door-to-door. “Further, we only have three workers at the store. Two of them package the material while the third delivers products. So, it becomes difficult for us to make deliveries to over 300 houses. As we are also receiving orders from areas located far away, sometimes it takes around an hour for the worker to make one delivery,” he said.

“Then there is no proper supply of food grains from the wholesalers. If this continues, it will become difficult for us to deliver the commodities,” Gupta said.

Inderpal Singh, the owner of Kwality Store at Jawahar Nagar Camp, said the burden has increased as residents are not being able to contact other grocery shops in the area. “However, we are delivering the products to the residents a day after receiving the orders. We are using two cars and two two-wheelers for making the deliveries,” he said.

Singh added that apart from supply of flour from wholesalers, that of pulses, sugar and other food grains is not sufficient. “In fact, the wholesalers have increased the prices of sugar and pulses by 300 to 400 per quintal. As the administration has allowed the movement of trucks for transporting food items, I hope that the wholesalers will also reduce the prices,” he said.

Divyanshu Garg, the owner of New Garg Karyana Store, Kishore Road, said he is dealing with over 200 orders at a time. “Though I am trying to deliver the items on the same day, sometimes the deliveries are made the next day. Pick-up trucks and cars are being used to make the deliveries so that many houses can be covered in one go,” he said, adding that everything will get streamlined if residents cooperate and stay calm.

WHOLESALE DEALERS HARRIED

With the inter-state transportation coming to a halt, the wholesale dealers of grocery products are facing problems in supplying items to the city retailers, which is leading to shortage of products in the market. The wholesalers rued that the food supplies department is imposing unnecessary restrictions to get curfew passes issued, adding that new norms are being formulated every day. They complained that the administration is also not allowing them to open the shops.

Ludhiana Consumer Products Distributors’ Association president Harkesh Mittal said the wholesalers are facing harassment in availing passes from the administration. “Due to this, they are not being able to supply grocery items to the retailers, which is resulting in a shortage of supply to the consumers,” he added.

Mittal said the food supplies department had issued some passes on Thursday without asking for the vehicle registration certificate. “But on Friday, the officials deemed the certificate to be necessary. On Friday evening, the wholesalers were told that the permission will now be granted by the station house officer of the concerned police station,” he said.

“If these conditions continue to prevail in the coming days, residents will face a further shortage of grocery products as the retailers are already facing a shortage,” Mittal said, adding that the administration should take suggestions from associations so that the supply can be streamlined.

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