No shortage of salt in country, citizens advised to refrain from ‘panic buying’

No shortage of salt in country, citizens advised to refrain from 'panic buying'
Salt shortage rumours trigger panic buying. Picture Courtesy: ANI

Rumors about salt shortage led to panic buying in many parts of the country on Friday, following which the government clarified that there are no shortage of the commodity and urged people not to indulge in panic buying.

“We monitor the prices of 22 essential commodities on daily basis. As per the prices reported by centres from across the country, there has been no increase in price of salt whatsoever,” the department of consumer affairs said in a statement.

The government’s clarification came after reports of panic buying of salt in several parts of country amid rumours of shortage.

The department of consumer affairs clarified that there is enough salt to meet any unexpected shortage, if any.

“The total production of salt in India, on an average, is about 220 lakh tonnes. Of this, only around 60 lakh tonnes is used for domestic consumption. The remaining quantity is for industrial use and exports. Thus, there is sufficient manoeuvrability to meet any unexpected localised shortage, if any,” the department said.

The rumors caused thousands to line up outside shops and go on a salt buying spree, fearing that the scarcity could last for ‘few days’.

While instances of panic buying have been reported in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, it is believed that the rumors originated from Uttar Pradesh.

Considering the importance of salt in our daily lives, the news spread like wildfire to other states.

Although there is no saying how the rumors started, people flocked to grocery shops and retail outlets in large numbers to buy salt in large quantities. As the panic spread, several quintals of salt vanished from shop shelves.

In some areas salt was said to be selling, if available, anywhere between Rs 100-Rs 300 per kg.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has directed all districts magistrates in the state to take strict measures to check panic buying of salt and act against those who are spreading rumors.

He also clarified that there is no shortage of salt in the state and instructed all district supply officers to ensure no hoarding takes place. Police officials have also been directed to increase patrolling in the affected areas as it could potentially result in a law and order situation.

A special team has been formed to trace the message that went viral within minutes of appearing on social media sites, triggering panic.

As for Delhi, Special Commissioner Law & Order, North at Delhi Police SBK Singh also quashed the rumours.

“Just rumours. Area being patrolled extensively by Station House Officers (SHOs) to dispel rumours and inform the crowd. No shortage of salt or ration,” Singh said.

The Police Control Room also received calls about shortage in Maujpur and Jaffrabad, among other areas, following which officials were dispatched to bring situation under control.

In Mumbai too, anxious customers flocked stores in South Mumbai, Sewri, Andheri and Dadar were to purchase salt before the stock ran out.

Mumbai police has also issued a statement urging citizens to ignore rumors about salt shortage.

Amitabh Gupta, Controller of Legal Metrology, also reiterated that no packed commodity can be sold above MRP and action will be taken against vendors who do.

In case of essential commodities like salt, shortage rumors can drastically increase the demand among consumers who might resort to hoarding, which eventually creates an artificial scarcity and causes the prices to rise exponentially.

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