Shillong: Panic-stricken people in Meghalaya Friday rushed to grocery stores and purchased salt at an exorbitant price of up to Rs.300 a kg while rumours of an acute shortage of the essential food ingredient swirled across the state.
However, the state government dismissed the rumours and warned strict action against those who spread rumours.
The government also made public announcements about abundant availability of salt in the market at prescribed rates and consumers stopped the panic buying.
People were seen queuing up in the market areas in this hill state capital of Meghalaya to buy salt following rumours that there was an acute shortage due to reduced supply of the commodity from Gujarat.
Some of the shopkeepers took advantage of the rumours and started selling one kilogram of salt anywhere between Rs.150 to Rs.300 against the market price of Rs.15 a kg.
Though, panic buying of salt was first heard in Bihar two days ago, the district administration in East Khasi Hills has directed Meghalaya Police to find out the origin of the rumour on shortage of salt.
No arrests have been made here so far.
"I have instructed the state police to investigate the matter and to book those shopkeepers who have sold salt at exorbitant rates to consumers," Sanjay Goyal, the district magistrate of East Khasi Hills, told reporters.
On the other hand, Meghalaya Food and Civil Supplies Minister Clement K. Marak appealed to the people of the state not to panic as there was sufficient stock of salt in the state.
"There is enough quantity of salt stock in the state, and the acute shortage of salt is only a rumour to create panic in the minds of the people," Marak said.
Moreover, he said he has directed all district magistrates to ensure salt is sold at its maximum retail price (MRP) and to book those who are found selling it above MRP under provisions of the Essential Commodities Act.