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Supply of essential items picks up pace, stocks to be refilled

The recent shortage in supply of essential items, including dhal, pulses, cereals and spices, due to disruption in lorry movement is set to ease soon, as the transport of these items have picked up pace in the past two days, industry sources told DT Next.

Supply of essential items picks up pace, stocks to be refilled
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People wait in front of a vegetable shop during lockdown

Chennai

“Lorry movement from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh has picked up. All essential provisions have started arriving and in the next few days, there will not be any shortage in Chennai,” said AM Vikrama Raja, president, Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangam Federation.

After coming to a total standstill, about 40 per cent of the lorries have restarted operating from this week. Onions and dhal have started coming from Maharashtra, so are the case with chillies from Andhra Pradesh and spices including pepper from Karnataka, said Vikrama Raja. The price of all essential items had shot up after trading activities became restricted ever since the shutdown, but minimum supply would be maintained, he added.

Stringent warning by police and municipal officials also affected the traders, who have been directed to reduce working hours from 6 am to 1 pm. With the State sealing shops that violate the direction, a few traders have chosen not to even open their shops until the curfew was lifted, he said.

“The situation with basic materials like rice, dhal, pulses, jaggery, etc. have improved, but their prices have shot up between 15 and 25 per cent,” V Jothiraj, a wholesale trader in central Chennai. Supply from Maharashtra has improved, but the supply of biscuit, noodles and readymade breakfast items has stopped due to closure of food processing industries, he said, adding that supermarkets and provision stores were functioning with only 50 to 60 per cent supply.

“The State is producing surplus vegetables, and groceries supply has steadied in all the districts. But flower trade, including export, is badly hit. Horticulturalists in Krishnagiri, The Nilgiris and Dindigul who export roses, tulips and jasmine are badly hit due to the lockdown. There are complaints from exporters every day,” said an official from State Horticulture Department. According to Tamil Nadu Delta farmers Association members, paddy cultivation and storage in delta region has also been severely affected due to lockdown.

Grocery stores run low on stock

Grocery stores in the city are running out of stock due to lack of supply even though the State police had promised to not hamper the movement of essential goods. As the city is running out of stock, retailers and wholesalers have increased products of the products, too.

While some of the supermarkets ran out of biscuits, bread, and sanitary napkins a few days after the lockdown came into effect, now stock of rice and wheat is also diminishing. “All the products in my shop will be over within a week. If the loads do not start coming into the city soon, there will be nothing left to sell. People are buying everything in bulk in the fear of extended lockdown,” said Marimuthu N, who works at a grocery shop on Broadway.

The loads from other states are being stopped at the borders and it has lead to an increase in price throughout the State.

The prices are expected to come down only when the situation normalises. “Though the government ensured that arrangements would be made to bring stocks via train, no steps have been taken yet. Loads from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Nagpur have been stopped already.

Earlier, one sack of dhal was sold for Rs 900 but now it has increased to Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,250. The price would decrease only if stock is made available,” said S Chandrasan, president, Tamil Nadu Food Grains Merchants Association.

Currently, only 10 per cent of the trucks are running. The transport association has assured full operation and stock up all grocery stores within 10 days.

“In the initial stage of the lockdown, we had trouble in bringing supply from the manufacturing plant to warehouses. But even after the government permitting the truck services, the drivers are not ready to work fearing police action. We are managing with the available drivers to supply stocks. But we will ensure sufficient stock in 10 days,” P Sundaraj, member of All India Motor Transport Congress

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