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Sharmili Mallick

Bhubaneswar: With an aim to ensure unhindered movement of vehicles engaged in the transportation of essential commodities during the lockdown in view of Coronavirus in the country, Odisha government has allowed dhabas located alongside the national and state highways to remain open.

Besides, vehicle repair and spare parts shops alongside the national and state highways in the State will also remain open as per the latest notification of the State government.

In a letter to the district Collectors and Superintendents of Police (SPs), Principal Secretary of Water Resources, Surendra Kumar Mohanty stated, “The nationwide lockdown to combat COVID-19 is extremely critical to stop the disease from spreading. However, during this period of lockdown, the provisioning of essential commodities will be very important to ensure that people remain indoors and do not panic.”

Also Read: COVID-19 Lockdown Triggers Panic Buying Across Odisha, Traders Blame Govt

“With a view to achieve this and in order to facilitate smooth inter/intra State movement of goods, the roadside dhabas, vehicles repair shops, spare parts shops which are located alongside the national and state highways must be opened at the rate of 1 every 20 kilometres or as deemed fit by the district administration,” wrote Mohanty in his letter.

The State government also directed district collectors to grant permission accordingly through the CSOs/RTOs and also directed SPs to personally ensure that there is no problem in the transportation of essential commodities.

The government also ordered that no goods vehicles carrying essential, non-essential or even empty shall be stopped by the police.

“No passes are required for any goods vehicles across Odisha including Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. Highway patrolling will ensure that there is no congregation in any dhabas,” directed the Principal Secretary.

Worth mentioning, the Odisha government’s COVID-19 spokesperson Subroto Bagchi during the media briefing on Wednesday allayed the fear and assured smooth transportation of goods within the State and outside during the 21-day lockdown.

“Vehicles transporting goods and trolley rickshaws can ply uninterruptedly for the free flow of essential items like rice, dal, sugar, salt, vegetable items in the State. Strict action will be taken against those who disrupt it,” informed Bagchi.

Read More: ICMR Answers FAQs About Coronavirus

Earlier on March 24, flagging concerns over the chances of shortage of essential commodities in the State due to lack of manpower handling transportation & movement, State Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain in a letter to CM Naveen Patnaik had sought an assessment of the food stock available in the State.

The Minister also urged the CM to procure and stock up essential commodities as buffer by wholesalers in order to meet any shortfall in the future.

Swain also requested CM Naveen Patnaik to open a monitoring unit at the department to ensure that essential commodities like cooking gas, petrol, diesel and kerosene are easily available for the public.

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