Pradhyumna Sawant has been running a grocery shop for almost 20 years now in Dombivli. He has a well-established network of agents in different markets, which helps him keep his shop properly stocked. But for the last one week, he has been struggling for undisrupted supply. "We are trying to get things like soaps and biscuits and even rice and wheat. But agents say they don't have any right now and they will send it once they get it," said Pradhyumna.
Shashikant Tawde is Sawant's regular customer. He wanted to buy two kilograms of onions. But as Sawant’s stock was over, Tawde had to buy those from a street vendor who charged him Rs 65 per kg. "Pradhyumna would have given me the onions for the right price,” said Tawde.
As the state has been under a lockdown since March 22, it has hampered the supply chain largely. The reports from many cities say that many items are unavailable in shops and people are forced to look for them at multiple locations, which is defying the purpose of the lockdown.
The state government has asked Navi Mumbai's traders at Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) to keep their shops open. They are the largest suppliers of items for Mumbai and the suburban area. They also export the material/produce, but export has been almost stalled and the supply chain from the market to local shops and stores has been obstructed to a large extent..
"We have received some passes to supply the material to the shops. But we do not have coolies. There are timing issues because shops are now closing down by 2 pm. So, the government will have to find a way for this chain to be revived with all proper security. Only then, the supply will be normal," said Dattatraya Mali, an agent in the APMC market.
The trucks which carry goods have also been stopped at many state borders. As per conservative estimates, one lakh trucks are still stranded at various checkpoints across India, which is also affecting the supply chain.
"We have a few customers who ask for a particular brand of coffee or toothpaste. Now, we don't have that. When we ask the agent why there is no supply, he says that the trucks are stopped somewhere. So there is a shortage of many things in the market," said Sawant.
Maharashtra government is providing rice, wheat, and pulses to saffron ration card holders. But that is not enough. With the new lockdown extension till April 30, the state government will have to restore the supply chain at the earliest.
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