Meghalaya Minister admits shortage of essential commodities, assures measures to meet state’s requirements

Shillong, Apr 2: Meghalaya Food and Civil Supplies minister, James K Sangma on Thursday acknowledged “shortage” of essential commodities in some districts in the wake of the nation-wide lockdown, but assured that the government has adopted various measures to meet the State’s requirement.

“It has not been easy for everyone in the past few days. There is a shortage of essential food items in the open market, and this shortage is due to the panic buying caused by the announcement of the lockdown,” he told journalists.

Sangma said that Price Monitoring Cell has been constituted in each district headquarters to stem unscrupulous people from taking advantage of the situation and overcharge the prices of essential items.

“The supply officers are also monitoring the market at the district level by way of surprise raids to ensure that there is no hoarding of essential items at this crucial time,” he said.

Sangma also warned of stern action taken against any hoarders under section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and section 3 of the Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies and Essential Commodities Act 1980.

Informing that the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) under the National Food Security Act is more or less streamlined to ensure steady supply of essential items, the Food and Civil Supply minister said, the state government has accorded Rs 26, 38, 75, 500 for a quantity of 1, 17, 278 quintals for two months under the ‘Open Market Sale Scheme’ to be procured from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns.

Under this scheme, the rice will be lifted from the FCI godowns by the Deputy Commissioners of respective districts and made available to the open market.

However, he said that the government is coordinating with the FCI with regards to the location from where the government can lift this food grain.

Sangma said that the government has also taken up with National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited for allocation of 5, 553.64 quintals of pulses (specifically masoor dal), which will be distributed amongst the TPDS at one kilogram for free for three months.

The Food minister also said that each NFSA beneficiary would be getting an additional five kilogram of rice per beneficiary for free for the months of April to June under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana.

“This is over and above the five kilograms they are entitled to every month,” Sangma said, adding that each beneficiary will get one free gas cylinder for three months starting from April under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.

To stabilize the open market procurement of rice and other essential food items, Sangma said Deputy Commissioners have been given the “freedom to issue authorization letters and curfew passes” to retail shops to procure their food grain stock and other items from Assam to tackle the shortage in the open market to a large extent.