Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma on Friday informed the people of the state that there is no shortage of essential commodities and warned of stern action against sellers who overcharge.
There have been complaints that the price of food items has gone up suddenly as sellers have taken advantage of following the decision of the government to shut down shops and markets as part of the preventive measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting that discussed the current situation and preparedness of the state to tackle the epidemic, the Meghalaya CM said there is “no shortage of essential items in the state” and urged people not to panic in buying additional items.
As decided by the Centre, the state government has also invoked the Epidemic Disease Act 1897 to provide for the prevention of the spread of “dangerous epidemic diseases” to combat coronavirus.
All the states and union territories of India are advised to invoke the provisions of Section 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act 1897.
“If we find any kind of hoarding, black-marketing of essential items by the sellers, strong action would be taken,” the chief minister said.
He also urged the people to lodge complaints with the district administration.
“We have also received complaints and we are taking action,” he said.
Meanwhile, food and civil supplies minister James K Sangma said in the wake of measures to contain the spread of COVID -19 virus in the state, it has come to the notice of the state government that some unscrupulous traders tried to take advantage of the situation and overcharged customers.
The unscrupulous sellers have overcharged the customers for both essential commodities and essential household goods or engage in hoarding and black marketing.
“It is reiterated that strictest possible action shall be taken against such traders and retailers which even includes arrest and other punitive action as per law,” James said in a statement.
He said the deputy commissioners have been directed to ensure that the stock of essential commodities is sufficient.
“I have also directed that all government wholesale dealers and fair price shops maintain buffer stock to meet the needs of the people and there should be no overcharging of price,” said James Sangma.
“Daily stock availability and price monitoring of essential commodities are being personally overseen by me and officers of the food, civil supplies, and consumer affairs department.”
“I have directed stringent action including inspection and raids to prevent blackmarketing and hoarding,” the minister said.
“Stern action shall be taken as per Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and Section 3 of the Prevention of Blackmarketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980,” he added.
The minister also appealed to the public, not to panic or concern as there is sufficient stock of essential commodities in the state and the situation is being constantly monitored.
“I would urge all citizens of our state to report malpractices to the deputy commissioners and officials concerned directly and kindly cooperate with the state government to ensure that there is no hoarding and blackmarketing and artificial shortages and price escalation of essential commodities,” James said.