Bulk buying leaves many with nothing, district admin starts home delivery to RWAs as vendors hike pricesUpdated: Mar 25, 2020 23:17 IST
An overriding fear that the 21-day nationwide lockdown, announced by the Centre on Tuesday evening to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (Sars-Cov-2), could lead to a run on supplies resulted in a scramble at supermarkets and grocery stores across Gurugram on Wednesday. Residents made beelines outside stores to stock up all the items of daily need, even at exorbitant rates.
Though assured that supply of essential goods would be maintained, residents said they bought supplies for a month to ensure they needn’t visit the market later. The bulk buying, however, left little to nothing for many. To avoid such inequitable distribution of ration, the district administration has assured help through its Mobile Grocery shops. A dedicated fleet of 15 buses will be stationed at the RWAs and condominiums to provide food items like pulses, flour, rice, sugar, and salt to residents.
Long queues could be seen outside the few operational grocery stores and supermarkets throughout Wednesday as people bought items to last them a month, and more. Alarmed by reports that many were not able to buy any essentials, the district administration announced later in the day that the RWAs could requisition staple food items from the MCG if the residents were finding it difficult to access them.
Many residents said that they stocked up on vegetables and pulses amid growing uncertainties about the supply of goods in the days to come and if they would be allowed to venture out to even purchase essentials.
“The local grocery store in my condominium was closed Tuesday as the owner couldn’t get his supply from the Azadpur Mandi in Delhi. Even at my sister’s residential complex in Sector 47, there was a similar crisis. There is a lot of uncertainty. I’ve purchased ration and vegetables in bulk so that they can last me over a month if the situation doesn’t improve,” DLF-Phase 4 resident Anita Kaul said.
The panic was also driven by the sight of closed retail shops, supermarket and stores selling essential items, all of which the Central government said would remain open. Only a few shops were open Wednesday and their stock of available goods was limited.
“I left my house around 10am and found two supermarkets on the Golf Course Road closed. I found a private grocery shop open near DLF-Phase 1, where there was a queue of around 20 people waiting to get inside even though only five were allowed entry at a time. I managed to enter after a 20-minute wait, but, by then, the entire stock of onions and potatoes was exhausted,” said Rakesh Kapoor, a resident of DLF-Phase 5.
The skewed demand-supply has led to an uptick in the price of fruits, vegetables. Many grocery sellers have also raised prices of goods on the back of high demand.
Bablu Gupta, president of Sadar Bazar, Vyapar Kendra Association, said queues outside the vegetable market in the city’s oldest market were twice as long even when prices had increased by up to 30%.
“There are around 150 vendors sell vegetables in the mandi and each of them is catering to at least 12 buyers at any given point of time. Some people bought 15kg onions and some purchased vegetables worth over ₹5,000, despite the fact that the prices have gone up by 30% over the last two days,” Gupta said.
“The supply of goods to the mandi is yet to be hit significantly, as most of the trucks that come from Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh come to Gurugram bypassing Delhi, where the borders are sealed,” he added.
Prices soared significantly at the Khandsa Mandi as well.
“At Khandsa Mandi, vegetables were being sold at a price at least 50% higher than last week’s. The vegetable vendors are making a killing by flouting despite the strict warning by the Gurugram district administration,” Sector 37D resident Hemant Kumar said.
Rajbir Singh, a civil defence member, said he visited the Khandsa Mandi and warned shop owners there to not sell goods at inflated prices. He added that he informed the district administration about the malpractice.
“The district administration is looking into price inflation on a priority basis and appropriate action will be taken against all violators,” deputy commissioner Amit Khatri said.
ADMINISTRATION TO SUPPLY TO RWAS
By Wednesday afternoon, the district administration released a statement by deputy commissioner Khatri stating that 15 mobile grocery shops will be operational from Wednesday night onwards to all the RWAs who requested for it.
Essential items will be directly unloaded at RWAs/condos with stores. Buses will be stationed in areas, which do not have any such stores. “RWAs which do not have a grocery store in their colony/sector/condominiums should designate a covered space where food items can be delivered for further sale to residents,” the release stated.
The district food civil supplies and consumer affairs controller issued a release stating the price list of essential items. The prices of goods per kilogram are ₹25 for loose flour and parmal rice, ₹36 for sugar and ₹20 for salt. Prices for pulses per kilogram are ₹90 for urad dal, ₹95 for moong dal, ₹57 for chana dal and ₹80 for tur dal.