GUWAHATI: Seppa, a remote town in East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, has a strange hardcore necessity – soft drink.
Its demand has gone up manifold in the COVID-19 lockdown. The craze is such that people do not mind standing in long queues and spending five times of MRP. Not just children and youngsters, even the elderly people are crazy about it.
Two days ago, the district administration had to intervene to restore normalcy as hundreds of people swarmed to a soft drink dealer. In the rush to buy it, they were found violating the norms of social distancing.
Officials in the district administration said the unprecedented situation compelled them to ban its sale.
“Most people here have given up alcohol and soft drink is the new alternative. It’s not addiction or luxury for them but a necessity,” Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Dahey Sangno said on Saturday.
He said for many petty traders, soft drink has become an option to eke out a living due to its mass consumption.
“There are 400-500 shops in Seppa. All except those selling clothes have soft drinks. Every shop that has a refrigerator sells it as it contributes largely to their income,” Dahey said.
He said people were hoarding soft drink following rumours that factories manufacturing it would be closed down. As there was panic buying leading to violation of the social distancing norms, the district administration had to intervene. People were dispersed with an assurance that several trucks carrying soft drinks were arriving in the town, the ADM said.
He said another reason behind hoarding was the onset of farming season. People carry it to the fields.
“We have sealed 22 shops, including wholesale shops, for selling soft drink above MRPs and stopped its sale. If we allow, we have to have certain measures in place so that the social distancing norms are not violated,” Dahey added.
Raya Flago, the curator of Itanagar Zoo who hails from a village near Seppa, said the people there drink only soft drink and no other drink.