TAMIL NADU

Efforts on to make available essential commodities

PONDICHERRY, AUG. 21. With the Pondicherry Goods Transporters Association launching an indefinite strike today in response to a call given by the apex organisation for a countrywide agitation to protest imposition of service tax by the Centre, the Union Territory Government initiated steps to ensure availability of essential commodities and that consumers were not affected.

An official source said that a meeting was held on Friday by the department with the representatives of rice merchants, grocery sellers and also vegetable vendors to urge them to extend full cooperation to the Government's efforts to ensure that no section of consumers faced hardship.

The source said that the personnel of the Directorate of Civil Supplies and Consumer Welfare were deployed to various centres to ensure that there was no exploitation and unreasonable hike in prices of essential commodities. The grocery merchants made it clear to the authorities at the meeting that they had stock, which would last a month although special measures were needed to procure edible oil.

Police protection

The Civil Supplies authorities opened a control room on the premises of the department, which would function round the clock. The department would provide police protection to merchants intending to bring their consignments from outside Pondicherry.

The Civil Supplies authorities had sent trucks to Andhra Pradesh, Bangalore and other towns with police personnel to bring the commodities including vegetables to Pondicherry, the official source said adding that the whole situation was also being monitored to prevent exploitation of the situation by any section of merchants.

Meanwhile the Association said in a release on Friday that there would be no booking or delivery of goods and all loading and unloading works would also remain suspended during the strike period.