Coronavirus: Government monitoring availability of essential commodities, says Paswan

Amid the coronavirus lockdown, Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has warned manufacturers and traders against profiteering. He added that the Centre is in touch with state governments to ensure that there is no shortage of essential commodities.

Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Wednesday said the government was monitoring the availability of essential commodities in the market amid the nationwide lockdown for next 21 days to check the spread of coronavirus outbreak.

Paswan warned manufacturers and traders against profiteering during this period. The Centre was also in touch with state governments to ensure that there was no shortage of essential commodities, he said.

"In view of situation emerging from the threat of #Covid19India, the government is keeping an eye on availability of all essential commodities in the market," Paswan tweeted.

"I appeal to all manufacturers and traders to avoid from profiteering in this situation," Paswan said in his tweet.

Meanwhile, the Centre on March 23 had allowed states and Union Territories to lift foodgrains for three months in advance from Food Corporation of India (FCI) for distribution through ration shops in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are about 75 crore beneficiaries under the Public Distribution System (PDS).

As of now, the government has surplus foodgrains of 435 lakh tonnes, of which 272.19 lakh tonnes are rice and 162.79 lakh tonnes are wheat, as per the government data.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a complete lockdown across the country for 21 days from Tuesday midnight, asserting that social distancing was the only way out for the country to fight a decisive battle against coronavirus outbreak.

The Centre and state governments have taken measures to ensure that the supply of all essential items continue smoothly, he said, seeking to allay apprehensions among people about availability of food and other essential provisions.

According to Health Ministry data, the number of coronavirus cases has risen to 562.

On March 21, the Centre had released Rs 2,570 crore pending grants for local bodies of six states, to ensure that basic services provided by local bodies are not affected amid coronavirus scare.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)


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