Manipur: Press Statement on Recent Salt Panic

November 26, 2013

PRESS RELEASE

Date: 20/11/2013

NEFIS and other north-east organizations condemn rumours on salt shortage

Prevalence of unregulated prices of essential commodities responsible for recent salt panic in Manipur, Nagaland and Bihar

In an unfortunate turn of events, people across Manipur and parts of Nagaland have been spending their precious money on an essential household item, i.e. salt, which was rumoured to have fallen short in supply in the state earlier this week. The rumours initially began in certain districts of Bihar and soon spread to Manipur and parts of Nagaland, triggering panic buying of salt. Not surprisingly, within hours the price of salt had reached a shocking figure of Rs 200 per kilogram.

While the media, local authorities and government are simply attributing the crisis to rumours, the fact is that many progressive people’s organizations like NEFIS (North-East Forum for International Solidarity), etc. are accounting for the crisis in terms of the troubled past experiences of north-east people. Due to little regulation by the government of prices of essential commodities like oil, grains, fuel, soap, cooking gas, etc., rumours consciously spread by wholesalers, retailers and middlemen found fertile ground to create panic-like situations. Indeed, the past experiences of Manipuri and Naga people have shown that with the crumbling of public distribution system (PDS) and growing presence of the black market which thrives on artificially created shortages, the daily lives of ordinary people have been ridden with problems.

Considering the true nature of the problem, NEFIS appeals to the people of Manipur and Nagaland not to fall trap to the vicious rumours and to condemn them openly. Furthermore, considering the apathetic approach of the local authorities and the government’s failure to provide the people with subsidized grain and fuel, NEFIS demands the following:

  • That all those persons who sold salt at inflated prices be investigated and suitably punished with immediate effect if found guilty;
  • That appropriate punitive action be taken against all those associated with the spreading of the rumour;
  • That the government ensures the distribution of essential household commodities at subsidized prices through the Public Distribution System;
  • That the local government constitutes an enquiry into the state of black-marketing and hoarding in the state;
  • That a citizen’s price committee be constituted and
  • That the consumer former/consumer court be made fully functional and accessible throughout the states of north-east.

 

Yours Sincerely

Ginminlun Haokip

North-East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS)