Staying at Home not as Painful as Arranging for Provisions, Opine Guwahatians
As the world keeps up its battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, staying at home for Guwahatians is not that painful even though picking up provisions is becoming a matter of increasing concern.
While the state government is doing a lot of permutations and combinations to ensure that the citizens keep maintaining safe "social distancing", all such attempts are tending to go haywire as per ground reports.
Recently, the Assam government deployed vegetable vans in about 66 localities but this also seems to have gone in vain as the move was unable to fulfil the basic consumption needs of Guwahatians.
G Plus tried to reach the masses of Guwahati via social media to understand the difficulties that the citizens are going through in this crisis and it turned out to be far more concerning than initially envisaged.
“I live in Nabin Nagar. AIDC was designated as a vending spot but there were no reports of mobile vans coming to the location. We are not getting any help from the government in this area. Also, the vegetable vendors are too far apart and we have also heard that they are charging heavily. The grocery stores are charging higher prices on potatoes etc,” said Shibani Dutta, a resident of Guwahati.
It may be mentioned that although the administration along with the food department is keeping a vigil on the prices, unscrupulous traders within the city are using this crisis as a profiteering opportunity by charging twice the price taking advantage of the artificial unavailability.
For example, peas are being sold at Rs 120/kg whereas pairs of lemons are coming for Rs. 40 and a 2 kilo cabbage is pieced at Rs 100.
“Like any other market goers even for Guwahatians it’s a customary rule to check the vegetables before buying but now with govt intervention, we are forced to buy even rotten vegetables,” said another resident.
Although the Centre along with the state government is leaving no stones unturned to fight this epidemic crisis the goal of social distancing can only be achieved if essentials commodities can be home delivered rather than making customers queue up at mobile vegetable stores.
The concern of the majority of the citizens is with the timings of the mobile van services as the state government has failed to notify the same to the people thereby leaving them stranded for the entire day. Also, the vegetables available are also limited which is creating a tough situation for patients who have to follow a strict diet.
Panic buying in Guwahati leads to surge in vegetable prices
With the state being placed under the 21-day lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19, rising vegetable prices is impacting consumers' kitchen budget.
It may be mentioned here that the state government has permitted just one person from every household to step out of their homes to buy essentials.
Though the concerns of citizens are not unwarranted, their flocking to markets may have diluted the whole point of a lockdown in the first place. People were seen crowding outside several markets, hence violating the cause of social distancing.
Consequently, vegetable prices increased fourfold in markets in the city. This is despite abundant stocks being available in these markets, according to sources.
Meanwhile, data compiled by the Union Ministry of Food and Consumer Affairs show that potato prices jumped by 26 per cent to trade at Rs 37 a kg as compared to Rs 29 a kg about a week ago. Potato has become costlier by 60 per cent in the last one month. Prices of onion and tomato, according to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, have risen by 8 per cent and 25 per cent to trade currently at Rs 40 a kg and Rs 34 a kg, respectively. Similarly, additives like coriander leaves have become costlier in retail to trade at Rs 20 a bundle today as against Rs 10 a bundle about a week ago.
It is learnt that the prices of onions are skyrocketing yet again. Buyers are worried that the vendors may block the stock to further hike the prices.
Speaking to G Plus a local vendor said, “Prices of only a few vegetables have gone up. Fresh stocks arrived on Wednesday, and it will be adequate for a day or two. Beyond that, it will be difficult to say what the situation will be if fresh truckloads of vegetables do not arrive from other districts.”
Unlike rice or pulses, vegetables cannot be stocked. Hence, it is imperative that the state government along with the government of other states act to remove any hurdles in transport of vegetables, or the people will suffer amid the Cononavirus crisis.
Govt’s restriction of provisioning meat, poultry products taken lightly by unscrupulous traders
Although the Assam government has put a hold on provisioning meat and poultry products in the markets of Assam, reportedly many unscrupulous traders are minting money with the sale of red meat and other non-vegetarian items.
The blame needs to be equally divided between the citizens of Guwahati and the traders.
Reportedly, red meat is being sold and distributed in several parts of the city, wherein people gather in large numbers in the early hours to buy the same, hence making a mockery of “social distancing.”
Meanwhile, in other districts people are selling off their farm fishes and poultry products in makeshift shops set behind their houses.