Monday, 30th October 2017

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Enough foodgrains: Assam minister

After the lockdown was announced, huge crowds have thronged the markets

By A Staff Reporter in Guwahati
  • Published 26.03.20, 1:40 AM
  • Updated 26.03.20, 1:40 AM
  • 2 mins read
A local carries vegetables after government ordered lockdown amid coronavirus pandemic, in Guwahati , Monday, March 23, 2020. (PTI)

Assam food and civil supplies minister Phani Bhushan Choudhury on Wednesday said the state had enough foodgrains to tide over the 21-day nationwide lockdown imposed by the Centre to check the spread of novel coronavirus.

Choudhury said the department had 3.2 lakh metric tonnes of rice, which was enough to feed 2.52 crore National Food Security Act beneficiaries (around 80 per cent of the total population) for two-and-a-half months. In addition to that, Choudhury said, there was 1.99 quintals of rice in the open market till Wednesday.

“Many people have already stocked foodgrains for 10 to 12 days. Whatever foodgrains we have in the open market, we will be able to overcome the lockdown without any problem,” he told reporters here.

Data collected by the department from various districts showed the state had 1,99,318 quintals of rice, 12,879 quintals of atta (wheat flour), 1,35,997 quintals of salt, 20,410 quintals of potatoes, 63,056 quintals of masoor dal, 10,938 quintals of moong dal, 7,570 quintals of gram, 75,552 quintals of sugar and 56,307 tins of mustard oil in the open market as of Wednesday.

After the lockdown was announced by the state government from Tuesday evening to March 31 (later extended by the Centre till April 14), huge crowds have thronged the markets.

“Foodgrains are on the way. However, we have faced problem in transporting foodgrains by truck. The Bengal government is not allowing the trucks to enter Assam. We are in touch with the Bengal government,” he said.

On increase of prices of essential commodities during the lockdown, Choudhury said the department was now concentrating on streamlining supply. “The wholesale price of these items continues to remain the same. Let us first streamline the supply of essential commodities. After that, we will step in,” he said.

Chief secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna told reporters that the government had asked grocery shops to supply fresh milk and vegetables, which are being collected from farmers by the food and civil supplies department. He said the district administrations have been asked to arrange mobile supply vans in localities where there are no grocery shops. He asked people to contact control rooms if they face shortage of food items.

The Kamrup district magistrate on Wednesday evening notified that all grocery shops will be kept open daily from 10am to 1pm.

Jorhat deputy commissioner Roshni A. Korati said retail shops selling groceries would open from noon to 5pm daily and wholesale outlets from 8am to 11am. The timings, sources said could become the norm across Assam from Friday. The retail shops could again buy stocks only after four days to curb gatherings.

The Dibrugarh administration, after discussion with Traders Association of Dibrugarh on Wednesday, decided that retail grocery shops will be open from 8am to 1pm and wholesale shops from 8am to 2pm. All medicine establishments will be open according to the normal schedule.

Additional reporting by Rokibuz Zaman in Guwahati, Devajit Baruah in Jorhat and Avik Chakraborty in Dibrugarh