Retailers, chemists urge government to help maintain supply chain amid lockdown

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on March 24, 2020

CHEMIST-NPPA   -  The Hindu

Curbs placed by local authorities hurting supply of essential products, say industry associations

Retail and chemist associations have expressed concerns about the restrictions placed on the movement of their support staff — involved in the supply chain of groceries and medicines — by local authorities. With over 560 districts under a lockdown, they have urged the Central and State governments to ensure the supply chain of essential products is maintained.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) said: “Retail chemists, wholesalers, C&F (carrying and forwarding agents) of drugs and medicines have their own supply chain ecosystems. It is reported from various locations that local police is objecting to the movement of support staff such as pharmacists, chemists, wholesale firm owners, loading and unloading labour and transport drivers engaged at pharmacies medicine distributors, pharma companies and C&F.”

The letter, which has been sent to various ministries, too, said the situation has been further aggravated as courier and transport firms engaged in medicine distribution are being asked to shut down.

“Unless an immediate intervention is made, by issuing a clear advisory to the home ministries of all the States, the entire supply chain will be paralysed and for no reason the availability (of drugs) will be adversely impacted,” said the AIOCD, which represents 8.5 lakh members.

Panic buying

Similarly, the Retailers Association of India (RAI) has urged all the State governments to allow food and grocery stores within malls and outside , “both small and large stores and offline and online”, to stay open during the lockdown period to curb panic buying of essential groceries.

“Most of the State governments have agreed with the RAI’s view that shutting of stores selling essential daily need items will cause gross inconvenience to citizens and may set off panic buying...thereby creating a shortage for the needy. The RAI has also requested that home deliveries be allowed to prevent people from stepping out of their homes,” it said in a statement.

The association has pointed to “unfortunate incidents in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Gujarat as local police are going beyond the word of law, beating the employees and delivery staff of such retailers, and taking them to chowkis (police stations) for doing their duty.”

Published on March 24, 2020

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