File photo of Mukul Sangma

Leader of Opposition in Meghalaya Assembly, Mukul Sangma on Wednesday asked the state government to provide relief to the people as per the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to combat the price rise of essential commodities and shortage in supply in the wake of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown.

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In a letter to Chief Secretary MS Rao, Sangma said, “The spike in price of the essential commodities, particularly rice, is a matter of serious concern – poor families with limited cash in hand do not have money anymore and it is difficult to quantify such families in distress across the state.”

“The MLAs’ sincere attempt to distribute rice out of the limited earmarked amount from SRWP (Special Rural Works Programme) is also confronted by non-availability of rice in the godown of wholesale dealers/stockists and escalated pricing in the market,” the former chief minister pointed out.

Referring to the slew of measures announced by the central government to mitigate the plight of the poor due to the ongoing nationwide lockdown, the veteran Congress leader said, “It will be appropriate, therefore, if the assistance of providing of 5 kg of rice per person for 3 months and 1 kg of pulses per household can be implemented immediately.”

Urging the Meghalaya government to take up the matter with its Assam counterpart, the former chief minister said, “Inputs also indicate that the demand-supply gap of rice can be addressed to reasonable extent if milling of rice in Assam, in rice mills which were shut down, is allowed to resume with appropriate precautionary measures.”

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Admitting that in the past there were difficulties faced by citizens with regard to supply of essential commodities, state food, civil supplies and consumer affairs minister James Sangma said the government has resolved the issues of availability and distribution and essential supplies and commodities are available in the market now.

“Food grains are being released under the National Food Security Act and Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) for all the districts and this will ensure availability of food grains, particularly in the rural areas,” the minister said.

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