GUWAHATI: The State's capital city has witnessed panic buying of groceries and vegetable items soon after Dispur announced to clamp the toughest-ever lockdown in Kamrup (Metropolitan) district from Monday to put a spanner on alarming rise in the number of COVID-19 positive cases.
Health & Family Welfare Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced on Tuesday afternoon that the government had no other option but to impose the toughest lockdown in Kamrup Metro district from Monday. During the 14-day lockdown even grocery shops, vendors selling vegetables, fish and meat will also remain closed, Sarma said.
Sarma's announcement caused panic and anxiety among majority of city residents and they came out from their homes braving the inclement weather and water-logging in different areas to purchase groceries and vegetable items. Long queues were seen in front of grocery shops and vegetable vendors. The situation came to such a pass that the owners of some grocery shops had to down their shutters after their stocks suddenly exhausted due to panic buying.
Taking advantage of the situation a section of vendors exorbitantly hiked the prices of vegetable items. Items such ladies finger, cabbage, tomato, beans and capsicum were selling in between Rs 70 and Rs 120 per kg. Normally these items were being sold in between Rs 40 and Rs 60.
Some of the grocery shops have also started charging high prices for different commodities despite low MRP pasted on such items.
"I welcome the government's initiative to impose a tough lockdown in view of alarming COVID scene in the city. But grocery shops should have remained open. Now there will be chaos in the market. The people have already started panic buying and chances of virus infection are very high," Nripen Dutta, a resident of Chandmari area said.
An official in the Kamrup Metro administration said grocery shops remained open during the nationwide lockdown. "But we had noticed many people broke the lockdown rules on the pretext of buying grocery items. Now since the COVID scene in Guwahati has become alarming, the administration has no other option but to order closure of these shops during the coming lockdown from Monday. After a week we will review the situation and might allow grocery shops to open their shutters. The people still have two more days and they can easily buy their items without breaking the social distance norms," the official said.