Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Traders’ Association on Wednesday alleged that due to a dislocation in the chain of command, orders from the top is not getting properly implemented on the ground leading to price rise and disruption in supply of essential commodities.

Restrictions on the movement of retail traders are leading to rise in the prices of essential commodities amid the ongoing COVID19 lockdown in the State.

“Godowns have sufficient stock of essential items, but retailers are unable to move due to the restrictions imposed by the government,” said Odisha Traders Association Secretary, Sudhakar Panda.

“Though decisions are being taken in the administrative level to facilitate free movement of goods, they are not being properly communicated to the ground-level staff. As a result, the ground-level officials are restricting movement of retail traders,” Panda alleged.

Panda said that lack of coordination between the officials is leading to shortage in the supply of goods.

Also Read: Covid-19: 66% Odisha Households Yet To Receive Advance NFSA Ration!

The traders’ association secretary said that small traders are not allowed to take two-wheelers to bring essential commodities from godowns. The two-wheelers are being seized by the police.

“I request the director general of police (DGP) and the State government to facilitate hassle-free movement of the retail traders for ensuring availability of essential commodities,” Panda added.

Narrating the hardship, a vegetable seller near Rama Devi Women’s University said, “Penalties are being collected from us whenever we go out to purchase stock from wholesalers. Yesterday, I was forced to pay Rs 500 fine when I went to Unit-I market to bring vegetables in an auto-rickshaw.”

On the other hand, Twin City Police Commissioner Sudhanshu Sarangi rubbished reports of restriction on the movement of goods. “Media may please inform the small traders (grocery and vegetables) that there is no restriction on the movement of goods,” Sarangi said in a tweet.

“Our officers today visited Banki, Athagarh, Khuntuni to counter rumours. We are proactively facilitating movement. They can contact the police station or dial 100,” he added.

Giving an insight into the supply of foodgrains across the State during the lockdown period, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department secretary, Vir Vikram Yadav today said that the department released allotment of 5.655 MT foodgrains (rice and wheat) for 30 districts. The foodgrains will cater to 3.30 crore beneficiaries which is 80 per cent of the total population in the State.

Read More: Coronavirus Lockdown: Bhubaneswar Witnesses Shortage Of Vegetable Supply

He said the distribution process was started on March 19 and all the field machinery has been pressed into service. “Over 500 supply inspectors, SESOs and CSOs are carrying out the distribution work at the district, subdivision, block and ULB levels,” Yadav said.

He added that officials are conducting regular monitoring in markets to curb hoarding and black marketing of essential commodities and to ensure that the prices of the items do not rise.

Also Read: Coronavirus Lockdown: Traders Charging Higher Prices For Essential Commodities, Admits Odisha Minister

Later in the day, the Commissionerate Police has reportedly assured to issue passes to retail traders for smooth transportation of goods. Informing about the development, traders' association secretary Sudhakar Panda said, "Retail traders will visit police stations of their respective areas and collect passes.”

The Ministry of Home Affairs today wrote to all states to ensure availability of essential items during the lockdown period by invoking the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act.

"Invoke provisions of Essential Commodities Act, fix stock limits, cap prices, enhance production of essential commodities," Union Home Secretary, Ajay Kumar Bhalla directed the chief secretaries of all states.