The supply of import-dependent items, such as coffee, diapers, dry fruits, oil and cereals, is expected to take a hit if the lockdown is extended beyond May 3, says a report prepared by a six-member Delhi government panel on supply of essential items such as food and medicine.
According to the panel, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) in short supply include: “Lays chips, Haldiram Namkeen products, shampoos, moisturisers of prominent companies, products of major consumers goods companies such as Nestle, P&G, HUL, biscuits, cereals of reputed companies, sanitisers of reputed companies.”
According to the report, traders associations have also told the panel that there is a shortfall in supply of packaging material for essential items, which will worsen if the lockdown continues.
However, reduced availability of goods of major brands has led to a rise in the sale of smaller brands, states the report.
The panel also submitted that essential medicines are available in the market at the moment, but as factories are operating at less than half their capacities, distributors “may not be able to make supplies of all medicines if production remains affected at the source level”.
The panel is part of the 11 empowered groups constituted by Chief Secretary Vijay Dev on April 20, under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to identify problem areas in various COVID-19 combat efforts and offer solutions.
“It was also gathered from the market that all items of general nature are available in shops but some of the products of reputed companies or products generally demanded by consumers by name may not be available in the shelves. However, the shortage of such items has led to an increase in sale of smaller home-made brands to a large extent,” the panel, headed by Food Commissioner Ankita Mishra Bundela, said.
The panel pointed out that so far, no major shortage of goods of reputed companies has been noticed, but factories are not producing goods at their full capacity due to unavailability of labour and raw material. There is a possibility of minor supply issues if the lockdown continues for a longer time, it added.
“Contrary to initial apprehension, there has been no disruption in sale and supply of essential goods in Delhi. The efficient pass system, supplemented with an e-pass system, helped the e-commerce companies, distributors, suppliers and retailers,” it said.
The panel, which submitted its report on Monday, also recommended that electricians, plumbers and drain cleaners be also allowed to resume work. Late Monday night, the Delhi government lifted restrictions on services provided by electricians, plumbers, water purifier mechanics and veterinary hospitals.
Shops selling education books and electric fans will also be allowed to open. Last week, the government had allowed both essential and non-essential standalone and neighbourhood shops and those present within residential complexes to open in accordance with guidelines of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
On the availability of pulses, the panel was told by traders that fresh supply from Chennai, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh is not forthcoming. The Delhi government also issued an order on Tuesday putting on hold the distribution of pulses under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana.
“The quality of the pulses we received were not up to the mark, so we have decided to postpone the distribution of 1 kg pulses to every PDS beneficiary under the PMGKY. As and when fresh stock arrives and it clears our quality check, we will start disbursal,” a senior Delhi government official said.
According to the order, issued by the Food Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department, the issue related to “quality check of pulses under PMGKY has been taken up by the department with NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd). Accordingly, it has been decided to postpone distribution of pulses under the scheme for April 2020, scheduled to be started with effect from April 29 till resolution of the issue.”
The Delhi government plans to lift the lockdown in a graded manner after May 3 by easing restrictions in subdivisions not reporting fresh coronavirus cases. However, the final call lies with the Centre, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said.
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