CHENNAI: The ongoing national lockdown and other market conditions are leading to depletion in stocks of essentials like pulses in Tamil Nadu with rising labour and transport cost adding to woes of traders.
Even the prices of rice, the state's staple diet, have gone up in the wake of shortage in packing material, while stocks of pulses, biscuits and coffee powder are also dwindling as the lockdown entered the 17th day, industry insiders say.
A key traders' body rejected concerns that hoarding has triggered the shortfall of commodities.
The state is dependent on Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka for its regular supply of these commodities and increase in labour cost and short availability of workforce is adding to the woes of traders.
"I am afraid the price rise of such commodities is inevitable due to non-availability of packaging material. The cost of a 25-kg rice bag has increased by Rs 15," President of the Federation of Tamil Nadu Traders' Association A M Vikrama Raja said.
"The labour cost has doubled now. We have to pay Rs 1,000 per person per day. In certain instances some of our members have to attend to all the chores as the workers have been asked to stay at home to prevent the spread of coronavirus," Raja said.
He denied hoarding by traders as the primary cause for spike in the prices of commodities.
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Considering that Tamil Nadu was dependent on other states for the replenishment of stocks of essential commodities, the ruling AIADMK has urged the Centre to ensure smooth transit of trucks carrying these items to reach the state without any hassles.
AIADMK Rajya Sabha MP A Navaneethakrishnan, during the videoconference Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with leaders of various political leaders, on Wednesday when the latter consulted various political parties, had made a request in this regard.
Trucks transporting essential commodities to Tamil Nadu should reach the destination without being stopped at the borders, he had pleaded with the Centre.
Incidentally, Chief Minister K Palaniswami had recently said the state was facing some difficulty in procuring certain grocery items from other states due to the shortage of trucks but had assured the matter was being addressed.
Many people have started stocking additional quantities of rice and pulses amid indications that the ongoing national lockdown, scheduled till April 14, might be extended to effectively stem the spread of COVID19.