By M.C. Linthoingambee
The clock is indeed ticking fast on a triggered rumour that “Salt is in shortage”. The rumors picked fast speed in the streets of Bihar even as politicians ended up blaming each other for the cause. Technically, salt is a mineral substance composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl), a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of ionic salts; salt in its natural form as a crystalline mineral is known as rock salt or halite. It is rather a valuable substance: Can you imagine having to live without salt? I don’t think so. It happens once or twice that the great chefs of the house would forget to sprinkle those fragments of white and the taste turns out rather mortifying.
The rumour that Salt will no longer be available made invariable panic come true on the streets as people rushed to stores to buy salt be it at any cost or price. Three states indeed curved out the lashes being the primarily hit regions namely: Bihar, Kolkata, and Meghalaya. Speaking of the matter on the Central front, the Food and consumer protection minister Shyam Rajak blamed the BJP for spreading the rumour. BJP spokesman Suresh Rungta, however, rebutted Rajak`s allegation and said the government should ensure adequate supply of the essential commodity. “An unsubstantiated rumour has spread in Darbhanga, Sitamarhi, Samastipur and Madhubani districts about shortage of salt in the market due to reduced supply of the commodity from Gujarat, prompting the consumers to panic and buy it for Rs70 per kg at some places,” Rajak said at a press conference. “Officials of the affected districts have been directed to probe the situation and crack down on the hoarders,” Rajak added. While a probe inquiry of the matter has been orders to be investigated.
And as we can even say the same for some parts of Manipur in variable counts with the large amount of people storming and lining up around retail stores to get the contended amount of salt stored away in their stock. In Kanggui, the people are believed to have made a beeline towards the Godown used by shop owners to store away the essential commodity. In spite of the assurances provided by the Government that there is no likable shortage to the product only a handful listened and worries shot up amongst the people, which in turn led to the Kanggui Youth Union stepping in to bring the situation under control. As a result of these public controversies and the increasing intent of the public’s anxiety, a joint team of AMSU, MCM and Kha-Nongpok Apunba Nupi Lup launched a publicity drive against the rumour and selling salt at steep rate thereby assuring the public that salt will be available in the kitchen and such rumors are indeed false. All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU), Chandel district distributed common salt at subsidized rate at Moreh on Saturday. While the same actions bore in some of the main areas of the State of Manipur, the same amount of rush were seen in parts of Churchandpur, Jiribam, Ukhrul, and so on.
The maximum retail price of salt of different companies is between Rs 16 and Rs 20 per kg. whereas today, we see shopkeepers having a field day and selling salt in a exaggerated price from Rs 60 to Rs 150 per kg. The Governments in its entirety has warned that offenders of the price hike and rumors shall be imposed with a penalty laid out in section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act. While mischievous people have stooped low to resort to such activities for undue profit, both the Police and the Government have assured that such allegations are indeed untrue and the Police force have been instructed to take action against those spreading rumours and hoarding.
Even with the in probe and assurances we are all still human, worried on the what if? What if salt indeed goes out of stock? As a result, people were seen swarming shops buying salt in bulk at various parts of the city and greater Imphal areas. While the situation still takes continues to take toll on major part of our lives people are still aggravated to a sense of worry that such situations might indeed be a reality. Henceforth, in the State the Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (CAF&PD) Minister, M Okendro appealed to the people to stop panicking and resorting to the immense buying of slats in bulk and also observed that the present scenario is a product of misplaced rumour. As a counter measure to the actions in the State, AMUCO has urged public to contact them at 8730830276 in case they come across people selling salt at higher prices and also requested all the voluntary organizations of the region to undertake on the same working scenario. In case you see any violations, they are hopefully just a call away to the rescue.
(M.C. Linthoingambee is an undergraduate pursuing B.Com. LL.B(H). An avid blogger, poet, a seasonal artist and a foodie, she is also a life member to the Indian Society of the Red Cross.)