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Supply clogs cause scarcity of packaged consumables

According to pharmacists, medicines are not available in ample quantities at the stores.

Updated: Mar 30, 2020 07:26 IST

By Ashish Mishra and Fareeha Iftikhar, Hindustan Times New Delhi

People queue outside a Public Distribution Shop (PDS) shop in New Delhi to collect their ration under the public distribution scheme by Delhi Government, on day 5 of the 21 day national lockdown imposed by PM Narendra Modi. (Ajay Aggarwal/HT photo)

Packaged snacks, biscuits and certain medicines have disappeared from shelves of stores in the city market since a 21-day lockdown was put in place by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to check Covid-19.

According to pharmacists, medicines are not available in ample quantities at the stores. They, however, maintained that the shortage was because of distribution problems and they will be able to replenish their stock as soon as they obtain curfew passes and are able to send their staff to fetch more consignments.

Similarly, grocery store owners stated that items — such as biscuits, instant noodles, namkeen, packed juice, tomato puree, and soft drinks — were either out of stock or witnessing a curtailed supply in view of the lockdown. Lack of curfew passes with distributors, they said, was one of the essential reasons for supply trucks being held up at Delhi borders.

However, traders maintained that the supply and availability of essential items was ample.

“On the day the lockdown was announced, a lot of people indulged in panic buying and stocked up on essential medicines in large quantities. Now we are not receiving supplies from our distributors,” said Tarun Chawla of Mediworld Pharmacy in Kailash Colony.

To deal with this situation, some pharmacies have started to cap the amount of medicine they sell to a customer at a time. Shikhar Gupta, of 3G Chemist in Defence Colony, said, “Those who have the money can purchase in bulk. But what about those who can’t? We have decided not to give more than two strips of medicine to anyone,” he said.

A similar situation was witnessed at grocery stores.

Traders said that even though essential items are available, certain commodities were disappearing from the shelves.

“Namkeens, noodles, and biscuits may not be essential, but these have become the most sold consumables. Sunday was the fifth day of the lockdown, but the supply of many of these items has been irregular,” said Navankur Dhama, a trader in east Delhi’s Laxmi Nagar.

Some retailers also said they were collecting stock directly from the distributors.

“We ourselves have to lift the goods from distributors as many of them are yet to get passes. In many cases, trucks of suppliers are held up at borders,” a grocery supermarket owner in Model Town, Paramveeer Bagga, said.

Delhi’s food and civil supplies minister Imran Hussain assured that there was enough stock of essentials.

“There is no need to panic as we are making all possible efforts to ensure proper supply of goods,” Hussain said.


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