GUWAHATI, June 26 - The State government�s sudden announcement of a 14-day complete lockdown in Guwahati triggered yet another episode of panic buying of groceries and vegetables in the city. The government has decided to stop the sale of these two categories of most essential items, at least for seven days from Sunday midnight.
The government�s decision to close all the grocery stores, along with other commercial establishments, came as a shock for the people because such outlets were allowed to function even during the previous phases of nationwide lockdown as groceries and vegetables are the most essential items of daily need.
While many have criticised the State government for creating a panic situation without any warning, others have welcomed the decision in view of the alarming rate of COVID infection in the capital city.
Ironically however, social distancing, the purpose for which the lockdown has been imposed, went for a toss in all parts of the city, with helpless storekeepers� pleas for maintaining social distancing and keeping a safe distance getting lost in the din.
�It is absolutely irrational and autocratic to effect a complete lockdown at this time. The government itself is asking people to go for panic buying and hoarding. By closing down even the grocery stores, the government has made it clear that it is not in a position to supply essential commodities to the common people, even though it is duty-bound to exempt essentials from the purview of the lockdown. Prices of vegetables have skyrocketed instantly following announcement of the lockdown,� Amrit Pathak, a 67-year-old retired school teacher, said.
Pathak had to wait for an hour outside the shop in his neighbourhood to get five kilograms of rice, two litres of milk and eggs, as the shopkeeper was busy catering to other customers with long lists of grocery items.
Meanwhile, the Kamrup Chamber of Commerce has appealed to all the traders and merchants to make sure that all consumers get the necessary groceries in the next two days.
�As per government guidelines, all foodgrain/food item merchants and grocery shops (wholesalers and retailers) will be able to open their shops tomorrow and the day after. It is my request to all traders to kindly maintain social distancing and take all precautionary measures as per the government guidelines,� KCC president MP Jain said.
On the other hand, irrational price hike of perishable commodities was reported from several parts of the city today.
�Vegetable prices suddenly shot up from Rs 40-50 per kg to Rs 80 per kg. Prices of potato also went up to Rs 40-45 per kg. If I don�t buy it today, it might go further up tomorrow,� said Manimala Deka, a resident of Bhangagarh area.