COVID-19 Lockdown Triggers Panic Buying Across Odisha, Traders Blame Govt
Bhubaneswar: The 21-day nationwide lockdown seems to have triggered fear among the people in Odisha who resorted to panic buying to stock essential commodities.
Major market areas across the State witnessed unprecedented crowd with consumers making mad rush to buy essential commodities like rice, potatoes, onions, dal and other food items. Throwing the norms of social distancing to the wind, the consumers were seen buying essential commodities for weeks or months may be fearing that the stock may dry up in coming days.
On the other hand, taking the opportunity of the situation, some traders are reportedly selling the essential products at high prices. While onion and potato are being sold at Rs 30 at Chhatra Bazaar in Cuttack, the prices of vegetables also spiked due to the lockdown.
Asked about why he came out of home during the lockdown despite government order, a consumer said, “What do I do. There must be stock of essential commodities in home during the lockdown.”
“As the administration is asking us not to venture out of house for these 21 days, we have to keep adequate stock of food items,” said another customer.
Debendra Nath Sahu, secretary of Chhatra Bazaar Traders’ Association, said, “We are urging all traders not to sell commodities at higher price at this juncture.”
The scenario in Unit I vegetable market is quite different. Though the shops are open and the prices of items are relatively low here, the market place is witnessing low footfall of consumers.
“A handful of customer come to buy vegetables early morning, but nobody turns up after 9 AM. Though some customers visit the market in the evening,” said a trader.
Moreover, allegations of black marketing of products have surfaced in some places while raids are being conducted by the district administrations to curb it.
On the other hand, the traders have blamed the transport and supply department for the situation.
“The government must ensure smooth transportation of items being imported from outside the State. If there any disruption in the transportation, the situation will go out of control in coming days,” said Sudhakar Panda, president of State Traders’ Association.
The druggists and chemists’ association in the State also expressed fear of scarcity of medicines during the lockdown period due to disruption in transportation.
Prashant Mohapatra, general secretary of Utkal Chemists and Druggists Association stated, “Couriers agencies in the State have stopped receiving products and transport offices have also shut shutters. We are trying to convince the transporters for the last three days to resume their business.”
Odisha government COVID-19 spokesperson Subroto Bagchi, however, allayed the fear and assured smooth transportation of goods in and within the State during the lockdown.
“Vehicles transporting goods and trolley rickshaws can ply uninterruptedly for 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,” Bagchi said during his address to the media today.