Panic gripped several cities across the country with rumours of salt shortage. There were reports of shopkeepers in some cities selling salt at a staggering prices exceeding even Rs 200 per kilograms. The government – both at the centre and states – rushed to rubbish the rumours, assuring that salt is sold at Rs 14-15 per kg in retail markets and there is no shortage of the essential-most commodity.
According to reports, lack of small denomination currency, due to demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000, triggered rumours of black marketing of essential commodities like salt as shopkeepers refused to provide change when offered with higher denomination notes.
“This is rubbish. There is no truth in this rumour. There is no shortage of salt in the country. On an average, salt prices are ruling at Rs 14-15 per kg same at last year’s level. There has not been increase in prices,” Union Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan told the news agency PTI.
Government has also asked the authorities to take strict action against those spreading rumours as well as against the errant shopkeepers, especially in Uttar Pradesh, where the rumours reportedly is said to have originated.
“Those who have sold at Rs 200, the UP government should take action and arrest them,” Paswan said.
Following Paswan, Union Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman too said there was no shortage of edible salt.
“Baseless rumours being spread. Salt Commissioner & Jt. Secretary Shri Raghavendra monitoring the situation. Asst.Salt Commissioners reporting from the field. No shortage. Monitoring will be on going,” she said in a series of tweets.
In several cities across Uttar Pradesh, panicked customers flocked to market as rumours flew thick and fast that salt has gone out of shelves and shopkeepers are selling at a premium — a high as Rs 200 per kg.
UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, while saying there is no dearth of the commodity and it was adequately available across the state, appealed to the people not to pay attention to such rumours and avoid panic buying.
He also directed the Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary (Food) and all District Magistrates to take action against those indulge in hoarding, black marketing and creating artificial scarcity of the commodity, and warned strict action against them.
Authorities in other cities across the country also rubbished the rumours while taking strict stock of the situation.
Late on Friday evening, tension prevailed in southeast Delhi’s Jamia Nagar area as residents hurled stones at police buses amid rumours of shortage of salt and hike in prices of the essential commodities. The police, however, was able to placate the residents and brought the situation under control. The authorities have called in additional force to monitor the situation.
(With inputs from the PTI)