Govt ready to supply daily essentials at convenient places: Minister Lekhraj Bhatta

Kathmandu / Mar. 25: The government has intensified its preparation to supply daily essential goods to the people from convenient places.

Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supply, Lekharaj Bhatta, held meeting at his pulchowk-based quarters with stakeholders concerned to discuss how the supply system could be made smooth. He talked to stakeholders on how 16 trucks of medicine and medical items stuck at Raxaul of Nepal-India border could be brought to the country. Information to this, was earlier shared to Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel by a noted cardiologist Dr Bhagawan Koirala.

With the enquiry with the Ministry secretary, Minister Bhatta received the phone by secretary Baikuntha Aryal that the obstructed trucks had already left for the country. Minister Bhatta then relayed the message to the DPM Pokhrel who is also coordinator of high level committee on prevention and control of coronavirus. The truck obstructed at border would arrive in the Kathmandu Valley by this evening. Minister Bhatta was quoted in Rastriya Samachar Samiti as saying, “The government has been actively working with effective communication and coordination with ministers, secretaries, subordinate bodies, NGOs and private sectors so that supply of essential goods as medicine and petroleum products would not stop during the lockdown.” He said, 29 mini trucks were ready to supply daily essential goods and over two dozen mini trucks — 15 in Kathmandu, and seven each in Bhaktapur and Lalitpur — were ready to supply daily goods. “Rice, grams, cooking oil, salt, potato, onion are being supplied to the needy areas,” he added. In case of scarcity of daily essential goods, one can call at toll free number 1137 so that the government team could reach there with the supply. The mini trucks would reach at people’s door steps — to their convenient places.

Similarly, big trade groups as Bhatbhateni, Big Mart, Sails Berry have been asked to supply the goods accordingly. Concerned district administrations have issued pass for the transport made by the business organisations. Milk tankers are coming unobstructed from the neighboring districts — Kavrepalanchowk, Dhading and Nuwakot — to the Kathmandu Valley. “I have discussed with Truck Entrepreneurs’ Federation and urged it not to delay and stop the supply of essential goods,” Minister Bhatta shared.

The Federation has been asked to provide incentives to the truck drivers and other employees who work in the crisis. The government has taken special initiatives to ensure smooth supply of cooking gas in view of 21-day lockdown imposed by the Indian government since Tuesday night, he said.

Likewise, around 22 gas bullets were imported from India on Tuesday. “The government is serious seeking alternatives if Indian drivers deny supplying gas bullets. We have made efforts to hold diplomatic talks with Indian side in this regard” the minister said, and added that arrangements have been made to organise regular talks between commerce secretaries of Nepal and India to facilitate regular supplies. He said so far no supplies from India into Nepal have been obstructed. Moreover, a study has been conducted to find the food availability in districts outside the Kathmandu Valley, said Bhatta. “Food grains have been transported to three districts. Now we have enough food stocks to last six months. We have asked districts outside the Valley to report situations of food grains there so as to determine what amounts of foods are needed.” People in Mugu, West Rukum and Jajarkot have been struggling without foods according to Tuesday’s report, he said. Following this, he said he has directed the concerned authorities to supply foods to the districts. The Food Management and Trade Company Ltd has about 25,000 metric tonnes of rice and 20,000 metric tonnes of paddy in the stock.

It has been reported that Salt Trading Corporation Limited has stocked salts that could last approximately 10 months while the sugar would last around three months. Industrialists have been directed to keep 100,000 filled gas cylinders ready and be prepared to supply additional cooking gas if need be, he said. “We need help from people and media in this situation,” he said. The government was serious on daily wagers who have been affected by lockdown, he said.

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