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Amid panic buying, social distancing goes for a toss


GUWAHATI, June 28 - A heavy rush of people, flocking to the markets to buy essentials, continued for the third consecutive day in view of the 14-day lockdown in Guwahati beginning tonight.

People were seen queuing up at grocery stores and vegetable markets to purchase the essential supplies before �the stocks are exhausted�.

People thronged the streets and laid siege to shops and every market selling essential commodities on Sunday, making a mockery of the social distancing norms. Unscrupulous traders, hoarders and black marketeers took full advantage of the situation, with the administration looking the other way.

�Since no grocery, vegetables and meat shops will be allowed to open at least for the first week of the lockdown, this panic buying was inevitable from the people�s point of view. Eggs have already vanished from the market, potatoes have almost disappeared, and onions, tomatoes and other vegetables are being sold at triple the prevailing rates. It is nothing less than a disaster. It has pushed commoners like us into more uncertainties�, a buyer said, adding �the poorer section will suffer the most in the coming fortnight.�

While some people complained of unnatural rise in the prices of essential items, prices eased a little bit today but were still above the normal rates in the main markets of Guwahati like Ganeshguri, Ulubari, Beltola, Chandmari, Uzanbazar, etc.

�This is an unusual situation where public discretion is required, although an urge for storing essential supplies is natural in the present situation,� a grocery owner said.

The stuff stockpiled by maximum purchasers included rice, pulses, beans, sugar, baby food, cooking oil, etc. Breakfast items like eggs, milk, biscuits, etc., also were in high demand, followed by items like chocolate and noodles.

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