People flock shops for salt


Special Correspondent  :
Rumours of shortage of salt spread the capital and across the country on Wednesday morning and within a few hours, people thronged to the grocery stores to buy the most common item of the kitchen, paving the way for shopkeepers to earn easy money by exploiting the situation.
In Dhaka, a large number of consumers and small traders flocked to Karwan Bazar for buying and storing salt apprehending that the rate would rise exorbitantly as like onion.
A similar scene was also found at the super stores and grocery shops across the city with consumers queuing before the stores to buy salt.
Consumers also complained that shopkeepers were charging high for the essential exploiting the situation.
"Small traders and people started buying bulk quantities of salt, followed by the rumours. The sudden consumers' rush led to diminish our stock within an hour," a salt trader at Karwan Bazar told The New Nation.  
"We have never seen such a demand for the key essential before," he added.
"After hearing the news regarding shortage of salt and that will be sold over Tk 100 per kg in coming days, I went to a nearby grocery of my area but there was not a single packet  of salt available for sale," Rosy Siddique, a housewife at the city's Kakrail area, told The New Nation on Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the government officials 'smelt rat' over the rumour urging all not to get confused with the misleading information over salt stock and price.
They also claimed that the current salt reserve is adequate and more than the country needs.
"At present, the salt stock in the country is much higher than the demand. So, people should not get panic by the rumour of shortage of salt," Md Mostaque Hassan, Chairman of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) told The New Nation.
The BSCIC chairman said the salt stock in the country was 650,000 tons on November 15 and the country saw record salt production in 2018-2019 fiscal year (1.2 million tons), which was much higher than the target.
He said the country has attained self-sufficiency in salt production due to hard work of the salt farmers and government's policy support.
"Despite the fact, an unscrupulous syndicate is trying to reap benefits by spreading misleading information through online media," said Md Mostaque Hassan urging people not to get confused over the misinformation.
A control room has been opened at the BSCIC headquarters (Phone No: 02-9573505) for salt-related all information.
Besides, the district administrations conducted raid across the country's kitchen market yesterday and fined traders for selling salt at exorbitant price following the rumour.
In Sylhet, where the rumour was spread first, the district administration conducted several mobile courts and fined 19 traders of Tk 1,65,000 for selling salt at high price.
M Kazi Emdadul Islam, Deputy Commissioner of Sylhet, said, "We held a meeting on Tuesday morning with all concern authorities including with salt traders in Sylhet to control the rumour".
"So far, the country has 6.5 lakh tons of salt in stock and there is no way of price hike of salt. Yet, some people tried to spread the rumour to create instability in the market. We are looking for the people who started the rumour," he said.
He cautioned the traders that anyone selling salt above the maximum retail price or resorting to hoarding or black marketing to create forceful crisis would be punished.
Kishoreganj District Administration also conducted a mobile court led by ADC (General) Abdullah-al-Masud, at kitchen markets in the town on Tuesday noon.
It fined shopkeeper Sumon Mia of Sumon Store of Tk 100,000 and Ajanta Shaha of Sonali Store of Tk. 50,000 in Barabazar for selling salt at high prices.
They were selling salt at Tk. 40 to Tk 90 per kg. The normal price is Tk. 25-30 per kg, reports our Kishoreganj correspondent.
Moreover, a total of 133 traders have been arrested across the country as they were found selling the essential at exorbitant prices.
Meanwhile, the Police Headquarters has directed the police force across the country to remain in the field so that none can manipulate the salt prices.