Enough stock of food items to sustain lockdown period, says Assam govt

Guwahati, Mar 25 (PTI) The Assam government said on Wednesday that there are enough food items in the stock to sustain the state for the 21-day lockdown imposed in the wake of the coronaVirus outbreak.
Addressing a press conference here, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Phani Bhusan Choudhury said the state will sail through the lockdown period with its food stock without considering the FCI’s stock under National Food Security Act.
“At present, we have 2 lakh quintals of rice, 89,794 quintals of different dals, 75,552 quintals of sugar, 12,879 quintals of atta, 1,35,997 quintals of salt, 20,410 quintals of potato and 14,380 quintals of onion across the districts,” he added.
Along with these items, 56,317 tins of mustard oil and 38,738 tins of vanaspati are also available, Choudhury said.
“There are more of these items, which are either on the road or being unloaded at various places. There are some trucks stuck at the Assam-West Bengal border. These will arrive within the next two-three days. We have also contacted the commerce chambers, which have assured us that there will be no shortage,” he said.
“With this amount of food items in the state, we will overcome this 21-day lockdown. We are more comfortable because many people have already stocked up 10-12 days of food at home. So there will be no crisis of food in Assam,” he said.
When asked about shopkeepers increasing the prices, the minister said that the government will look into that matter in the next two-three days after streamlining the supply across the state.
At a separate press conference, chief secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna said, “We want to assure there is no shortage of food items now. May be one or two items are in short supply as these are extraordinary times.”
“There is apprehension among the people like what action the government has taken for the continuous supply of food items or is there enough stock of food. We reviewed that today with the district Deputy Commissioners (DCs). After the review, I can tell you there is nothing to worry about immediately,” he said.
If there is any shortage of food items, people can inform the state, district and SDRF control rooms, the chief secretary said.
“For selling vegetables in the grocery shops we have asked the food and civil supplies department to collect vegetables from sources at Kharupetia and other places,” he said.
The DCs of Kamrup Metro and other urban areas have been asked to ensure distribution of the food items in localities where there are no grocery stores, he added.
Markets, offices and even gas agencies were closed and roads were empty across Assam on Wednesday, the first day of the nationwide lockdown imposed to check the spread of the coronavirus, as people remained indoors after resorting to panic-buying in the past two days.
The chief secretary said samples were collected from 217 people and 209 of them tested negative, while reports of the rest are awaited. Another 561 people are currently in isolation facilities.
Stating that 177 ventilators were available at the hospitals in the state, Krishna said among them 48 were kept specially for Covid-19 patients.
“We have mass quarantine facilities for 2,800 persons,” he added.
“A large number of people are coming from outside the state and they have reached our border with West Bengal. We have instructed the DCs there to make facilities for their shelter, ensure their 14-day quarantine, provide food to them and the state government will bear all the expenses,” he said.
The chief secretary warned of strict action against those harassing health workers in their neighbourhoods.
Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said strong action will be taken against anybody violating the provisions of the National Disaster Management Act.
“We are also warning those spreading rumours on social media and creating panic among the public,” Mahanta asserted.