On Day 2 of Covid-19 lockdown, essential goods supply still a worry

Published on Mar 26, 2020 09:57 PM IST

On the second day of the lockdown to fight coronavirus, there were complaints of shortage of medicines, milk, vegetables and spurt in the prices of essential food items because of short supply.

Vendors sell fruits and vegetables at Delhi’s Okhla vegetable market on the second day of 21-day lockdown as a preventive measure against Covid-19.(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
Vendors sell fruits and vegetables at Delhi’s Okhla vegetable market on the second day of 21-day lockdown as a preventive measure against Covid-19.(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
Hindustan times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondents

On the second day of the 21-day lockdown on Thursday, the supply of essential goods seemed better than on Wednesday even as there were complaints of shortage of medicines, milk, vegetables and spurt in the prices of essential food items because of short supply.

The police continued to arrest and book people who came out in violation of the lockdown regulations.

While Amul and Mother Dairy, in separate statements, said their supply was at par with normal days at most locations, smaller dairies expressed apprehension of disruption in supply if the shortage of raw material and workers, in absence of curfew passes, continued.

Milk supply in cities such as Mumbai, Pune, Patna and Lucknow may get affected as supply of milk from villages because of restriction on movement has dipped. Local district officials said instructions were being issued to police to allow vehicles carrying milk from villages to local milk collection centers.

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“As per our information, the milk supply from villages was less today and we have only seven days stock of coal needed for processing of milk. If situation will be continued it will difficult to supply milk to cities,” said DV Ghanekar, Managing Director of Gokul Milk that supplies a million litres of milk to Mumbai Metropolitan Region every day.

In places such as Delhi, Dehradun and Mumbai, the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) wholesale market started full operations on Thursday even as lesser amount of fruits and vegetables reached these markets. There were very less workers to unload the few trucks that arrived.

Vishal Sethia, a wholesale pulse trader, in Mumbai, said “There is panic and many of the labourers have left for their villages. Only one-sixth of the workforce, I have, reported for work today.” In Delhi’s Azadpur wholesale fruit and vegetable market, more trucks came though the off-take was not high because of mobility restrictions for fruit and vegetable vendors, said commission agents at the market.

In Goa, there was no supply of milk and bread as state government has enforced 100% lockdown. Even chief minister Pramod Sawant’s plan to home deliver food, including milk, proved to a non-starter. For Panaji, which has a population of 1.5 lakh, there are only three phone numbers for ‘home delivery of milk.

People could be seen protesting against the complete lockdown. “I am also attentive to the fact that people are not getting things on time. We will take about two days to put systems in place,” Sawant said. However, residents have approached Bombay High Court at Goa seeking directions to the state government to ensure supply of essential goods.

In Punjab and Chandigarh, the administration reported that they have received requests for curfew passes for calling a barber to home, to take dog for morning walk to VIPs seeking curfew passes for their gunmen and cooks. Punjab government, in a statement, said most of the essential goods were being supplied adequately.

In Odisha, the main vegetable market of Bhubaneswar which was operating from a congested space was relocated to a thoroughfare with traders asked to line up while maintaining distance. The state police also started a helpline for truck drivers carrying essential goods in case they faced problem.

In Uttarkand, the state government started home delivery of food and medicines for senior citizens and students, who live alone. The government also announced that they will soon notify regulations to penalise shopkeepers hoarding essential items as complaints for price increase was reported from various parts of the state. The state also issued orders to sell all essential goods from fair price shops. The state government, however, assured people that they have stock of pulses and cereals for three months.

In Jharkhand and Bihar, people faced problem in getting cooking gas cylinders and there was rush at the local cylinder distribution centers. In order to prevent chaos, the two state governments announced doorstep delivery of LPG gas cylinders. Ranchi administration also issued phone numbers and mobile application for doorstep delivery of ration and vegetable.

In Assam, one of the very few states not to report any Covid-19 positive case, the government has set up a 1000-bed quarantine facility at Sausajai stadium in Guwahati. A similar one in another stadium within the city is also planned. The government has also taken on rent an apartment complex near the quarantine facility where nearly 200 doctors can stay. It will become operational within the next few days. Health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said there was no shortage of essential goods in the state.

The Confederation of Indian Institute in a letter to Consumer Affairs ministry has said that there was ambiguity in lockdowns orders issued by various local authorities saying meaning of grocery is not clearly defined resulting in short supply of items such as floor cleaners and toiletries and oral hygiene products such as tooth paste and tooth brush.

“As you know that at present personal and home hygiene has become extremely important to fight the Covid-19 virus,” the letter said, seeking necessary clarification to the states from the government.

(With inputs from state bureaus)

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