Sonowal Asks Traders to Control Food Prices, Sets Up Control Room to Address Peoples' Queries

Guwahati, Mar 25 (PTI) Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Wednesday urged traders associations to take steps for controlling prices of food items during the 21-day lockdown period to combat COVID-19.

He also asked officials to set up a centralised control room and start a helpline number to address peoples' queries in the wake of novel coronavirus outbreak.

Sonowal held discussion with representatives of Kamrup Chambers of Commerce and Wholesale Marketing Board for Vegetables and urged them to take adequate steps for control of prices so that common people do not have to suffer," an official release said.

He also agreed to depute an officer of the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department to coordinate with the Chamber of Commerce to deal with issues regarding availability of stock and settling other matters.

The chief minister asked the Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup Metropolitan and Guwahati Police Commissioner to ensure smooth transportation of vegetables to the state capital from nearby districts as requested by the Wholesale Marketing Board, the release said.

Sonowal also directed officials to set up a 24x7 control room with dedicated manpower and start a helpline to address queries and issues of people on emergency and essential services in the state, the release said.

Staff should be deployed in three shifts to receive calls from people and contact the respective departments in the districts to address their issues, he said.

He asked officials to issue e-passes to goods carriers so that the supply chain is not affected and also issued directions for uninterrupted supply of animal feeds across the state.

Besides, he directed the municipal authorities to carry out a drive to sanitise all public places across the state and asked the Health Department to take steps to ensure supply of medicines for critically ill patients.

The chief minister also directed the director general of police to ensure strict monitoring of rumour mongers, especially on social media.

Markets, offices and even gas agencies were closed and roads were empty across Assam on Wednesday, the first day of the nation-wide lockdown.

Meanwhile, Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chief Hagrama Mohilary announced that essential items like rice, dal, mustard oil and salt would be provided to daily wage earners in Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri - the four districts under the Council - during the lockdown period.

In the first phase, out of the total 9.7 lakh such families, 5.5 lakh will receive the relief materials free of cost and it will be distributed door to door from Thursday, Mohilart told reporters at Kokrajhar.

Each of the 5.5 lakh families will get 25 Kilograms Rice, two Kilograms of pulses and 500 ml mustard oil and salt, he said.

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