In one of the first admissions of hoarding, and possible black-marketing, the Goa government has directed Secretary, Civil Supply, to check the stock status of wholesalers and retailers and the hurdles in the supply chain, and book those found guilty under Prevention of Black Marketing Act.
As Goans complain of lack of essential supplies and shops running dry — with goods diverted by local leaders and political networks to their constituencies leaving many to fend for themselves — the government, 10 days into the lockdown, has taken steps for smooth delivery of supply.
The government has asked all units in the supply chain to open shutters and ensure goods are distributed, with operations beginning no later than 4 pm on March 31. Failing this, action will be taken to cancel their trade licences, officials added.
The executive committee overseeing the official response during the lockdown has also authorised Secretary, Weights and Measures along with Secretary, Civil Supply to probe allegations of overpricing, as reports continue to come of Goans being charged twice and thrice the MRP, with those in farflung areas struggling.
At villages near the western Ghats, people have also complained of medicine not reaching them, and those that do coming with a hefty bill. At the islands in Goa, people continue to wait, while vegetables and other stock are sold at high prices.
After the central government allowed trucks to pass interstate, Goa has worked a system to ensure that the supply to wholesale units are monitored. A separate team is to track goods between wholesalers and retailers to ensure no hoarding or diversion take places. Officials are expected to work with IT set-ups and use the strong delivery network of Swiggy and Zomato and other home delivery providers.
One of the biggest problems faced in the distribution of relief, essentials and medicines was the lack of transit pass, failing which one could not step out. Matters worsened with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant requisitioning CISF, creating panic and fear among Goans, with visuals of personnel beating and getting people to squat surfacing.
From Tuesday, 30 different categories of people will be allowed passes and permits issued by different departments, including those working in restaurants, and chemists and druggists.
Volunteers with NGOs and other well-established citizen initiative networks will also receive passes which will ensure help reaches all corners — using the force multiplier approach.
So far, the volunteer passes were taking time, with several orders creating several levels of limitation and restrictions. With all of them now diluted, officials expect better delivery of goods — even as they continue to enforce the 21-day lockdown rules.
Goods carriages and trucks carrying essentials will be allowed to ply on roads within city limits, as expected.
Two specific issues the Goa Government took up included the smooth working of pharma industries, with special passes to be issued to everyone working in the sector.
Another concern that was debated was the growing number of calls for food that helpline numbers received from stranded workers. The government has been getting calls from labour department of other states too — asking Goa Government to ensure the workers are well-fed and have proper shelter. On March 30, around 15,300 labourers have been accounted for, from 1,150 on March 27.
Of the 30 categories, which include wholesalers, druggists, press, gas delivery systems, essential services, one category also includes those who can step out without any document — any person attending a funeral.
The government continues to also maintain that those who do not fit in any categories should not step out of their homes, and wait for food and things to be delivered to their doorstep, now that a proper mechanism has been put in place.