Punjab, Himachal, Chandigarh struggle with supplies

Complete lockdown to blame: Sources

Punjab, Himachal, Chandigarh struggle with supplies

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 28

Even as the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) to all states to ensure uninterrupted supply of essential goods and services, and asked them to appoint nodal officer to look into complaints of hindrances in movement of goods, different parts of the country have different level of availability with reports suggesting in a few of the northern states, including Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and UT Chandigarh, people are facing difficulty in getting essential commodities.

When asked about the variation in the implementation of the SOPs, government sources said on the first two days of the lockdown, there were reports of some problems in the northern states, but measures were taken to stabilise availability.

“We have sent to states detailed guidelines with SOPs to ensure people do not face difficulty in getting supply of essentials. All states are taking measures in line with the broad guidelines provided to them. They are all reporting to the central control room here at the MHA on a daily basis for past three days and as per reports, things are improving even in the northern states,” said an official.

Since the lockdown was imposed, reports from two worst-affected states — Kerala and Maharashtra — indicated there was no disruption in people getting essentials such as grocery, milk, vegetables, fruits and medicine, the officials said, adding similar situation prevailed in Delhi and the country’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh.

Talking about the situation in the northern states, the officials said, the problem was not of supply, but of distribution.

“Initially, the local administration in northern states took measures to ensure complete lockdown and covered under it even shops and vendors providing essentials such as food and medicines. But since the guidelines were sent on Thursday and followed up with addendums on Friday, situation has started showing improvement even in northern states, with Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh administration now stipulating time duration to open shops to sell things,” said an official.

Running out of stock

Chandigarh: Grocery shops in several towns of Punjab are fast running out of stock. The situation in villages is even worse. A shopkeeper in Bathinda said he had to switch off his cellphone as his shelves were empty and yet he continued to be flooded with requests for supplying rice, wheat, salt and turmeric.

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