GUWAHATI, April 1 - Retailers and wholesalers of essential commodities in the State will face corporal punishment if any of them tries to gain extra benefit by raising the prices amid the prevailing situation of medical emergency, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Phani Bhushan Choudhury told The Assam Tribune during a conversation here today.
�Our officials have already started a district-wise drive to prevent price hike of essential commodities. During the drive, we will check cash memos in every shop and initiate action against the rule violators,� Choudhury said.
He said one such incident was reported at Ganeshguri area on Wednesday where a wholesaler refused to cooperate with the Supply department officials.
�The person refused to show the necessary documents and abused our officials. We will soon file an FIR against the businessman at the local police station,� the minister stated.
Meanwhile, he also said that prices of some items have already been hiked at the source, which will surely have an impact on the market. In such a situation, the government will put a cap each on the prices for some items.
�We will allow a retailer to avail benefit of up to Rs 10 against the wholesale price of an essential commodity. Moreover, every shop has to maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the business hours. We are also going to provide 5 kg of rice additionally to every member of a family having the ration card under the National Food Security Act (NFSA),� Choudhury said.
At present, Assam has 58 lakh families having ration cards under the NFSA.
The minister also assured that for two to three months there would be no scarcity of essential food items in the State.
But he admitted that just after the announcement of the nationwide lockdown, Assam went through a critical stage when supply of essential commodities was briefly disrupted due to lack of labourers and vehicles. But now the situation has become normal. Supply of foods to the shelter homes across the State will be looked after by the State Disaster Management Authority, he added.