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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Bhubaneswar: Expressing apprehension over shortage of essential commodities, State Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain has written to Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik seeking an assessment of the food stock the State possesses right now and how much it might need in case the lockdown persists for a longer period.

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Swain stated that there might be a shortage of essential commodities due to a lack of manpower handling transportation and movement. As such, a careful assessment must be made by the department to understand how much essential food items are necessary for State for the next two weeks or a month and whether the required stock is available.

In case there's a shortfall, the same must be procured and stocked up as buffer by wholesalers, he said.

Highlighting the current situation, Swain mentioned, “Till now there is no shortage of cooking gas. In case of a prolonged lockdown across the country, inter-state movement of goods will most probably be affected. So, all the public sector oil companies should be taken on board to discuss the opening of communication channels to avoid any disruption of services.”

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In view of this, he urged CM Naveen 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.

Panic-buying is the most common phenomenon seen in this kind of unforeseen situation.

To desist people from resorting to such practices, Swain urged the CM to commence regular advertising in print and electronic media assuring people that enough food and essential goods are available with the government.

Panic-buying can aggravate the situation and disrupt the entire food supply chain. So I urge people to not believe in rumours and not stock up essential commodities,” the minister said.

Notably, the State government has constituted a seven-member team of bureaucrats headed by water resources department secretary Surendra Kumar to monitor smooth movement of goods into the State and within the State. The government also issued a toll-free number 155335 to ensure smooth transportation and supply of essential commodities in the State. The retailers and members of goods transporters’ association can dial the toll-free number to register their complaints.

Briefing the media, Swain said, “The government has stocked up all the essential goods for at least 10 days and we are in process of procuring even more.”

Shedding light on the PDS, Swain said, “We are trying to provide doorstep delivery of PDS ration to all the beneficiaries during this lockdown period.”

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