Supply of essential items may be hit as trucks blocked at borders

Supply of essential items may be hit as trucks blocked at borders

Ashraf K M, president, Cochin Lorry Agents Association, admitted that the supplies will be hit in coming days as drivers are returning without the lorries, after reaching Kochi.

KOCHI/PALAKKAD: As the country heads for a 21-day lockdown, the supply of essential items, including vegetables, rice and sugar coming to Kerala from other states, mostly Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka will be hit.

On the first day of the lockdown itself in Kerala, several lorries coming with onion and sugar from Pune and Kolhapur were blocked at Manjeswar and Kannur while Tamil Nadu has intensified the checking at the border post beyond Walayar in Tamil Nadu, leading to long delays. Apart from the Tamil Nadu check-post at Chavadi, the neighbouring state has also created a barricade just after Walayar.

Ashraf K M, president, Cochin Lorry Agents Association, admitted that the supplies will be hit in coming days as drivers are returning without the lorries, after reaching Kochi. “They are handing over the keys to us and going back. Today (Tuesday) our lorries coming from Maharashtra with onion, sugar and black channa were blocked in Manjeshwar and Kannur border,” he said.

Around 150 loads of vegetables used to come from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka into Kerala before the outbreak of Covid-19 which has now come down to around 100 loads now. Palat Vijayaraghavan, founder & CEO, Lawrencedale Agro Processing India (LEAF), an Ooty-based fresh food firm, said the movement of essential commodities – fresh fruits and vegetables – by organised supply chains, has been hit due to lack of clarity on the part of the officials manning the borders between the five south Indian states.

“The government notifications clearly mention that movement of essential commodities, including fresh fruits and vegetables, will not be hampered. However, the authorities at the check posts in the five southern states are imposing restrictions even on movement of fresh fruits and vegetables due to lack of clarity at their levels,” Vijayaraghavan said.

Ashraf said the Cochin Lorry Agents Association’s 160 offices in Ernakulam have been shut for the last several days. After two lorries carrying vegetables coming into Kerala were blocked at Chavadi, the Palakkad collector entrusted the Revenue Divisional Officer of Palakkad to monitor and take up the movement of vehicles across the border with his counterpart in Coimbatore.

P Thilothaman, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, last week said that the state has enough supply of rice and other provisions for three months. But the question is what will happen after three months if the Covid-19 precautions continue further for some more months. Rajeev Sharon, president, Container Owners Association, pointed out that rice is shipped to Kerala from Andhra Pradesh via the sea to Cochin Port, and hence there would not be any problem in its supplies. “From Cochin port, the container lorries transport rice and wheat to other parts of the state. We do not see any problem there,” he added.

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