Essential items tougher to come by as stores run out of groceries and medicines amid coronavirus lockdown

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What and how essential are ‘essentials’ that are not listed in the government’s list of essentials? Well, most of the essential items that we use in our daily routine has been missing from the grocery store shelves as these stores have run out of stock amid the lockdown.

Online stores that are doing home delivery of essentials in the state are restricting themselves to flour, pulses, rice, and cooking oil while daily use items like toothpaste, soaps, detergents, biscuits, diapers, candles, mosquito repellant, tea are not in the list.

“We have run out of toothpaste and the online stores do not show this as a shopping option. Two websites have put up the ‘not available’ sign on toothpastes. When we called up the store, they said that they are delivering only essentials till the lockdown is lifted. Now how do we manage without toothpaste? We will have to rub salt on teeth perhaps,” said Renu Saxena, homemaker from Prayagraj.

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Most of the small grocery stores that cater to a particular locality have run out of items like detergents, mosquito repellants, tea, candles and batteries.

R.K. Agarwal, a grocery store owner in Indira Nagar in Lucknow, explained, “Transportation of goods is a major problem in the lockdown. We are concentrating on supply of essential food items and the government is also focusing on this. Candles, mosquito repellents and diapers are not the priority right now.”

Neena, a student of Banaras Hindu University who is living in a paying guest accommodation in Sigra area, has run out of sanitary pads.

“The medical stores in my area have sold out sanitary pads and the shopkeepers say that the supply chain has been affected and they are not getting supplies,” she said.

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Most of the stores have also run out of diapers and baby food which is a cause of concern for young mothers.

Navina Uttam, a cancer survivor, has been prescribed a gluten-free diet but is unable to get gluten free flour like bajra and ragi.

“My store tells me that bajra and ragi are not on their priority. I showed my doctor’s prescription to the helpline people but they simply expressed their helplessness,” she said.

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Meanwhile, Rajendra Gupta, general secretary of UP Udyog Vypar Mandal admitted that the ‘essential’ list did not include items that could be termed ‘essential’.

‘Most of the items like diapers and shampoos are supplied from states other than UP and in view of the national lockdown, the supply chain has been affected. We are in constant touch with concerned officials on the issue but the fact is to first ensure the availability of basic food items,” he said.

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