Lockdown in India won't affect supply of food to UAE: Retailers

Dubai, Mar 26 (PTI) The ongoing 21-day nationwide lockdown in India to combat coronavirus outbreak will not affect food supplies from there to the UAE, retailers in the oil-rich nation have said, as they assured residents of 'ample' supplies, according to a media report.

In an attempt to stem the spread of coronavirus in India, Prime Minister Modi on Tuesday announced a nationwide lockdown for three weeks.

Following the lockdown, there were concerns among residents of UAE, which import most of its food commodities from India, on the smooth supply of the products.

In reply to a question on if the 21-day lockdown would affect supplies to the UAE, V Nandakumar, Chief Communications Officer at Lulu Group, told Gulf News on Wednesday: 'As of now, special passes have been issued for export-import activities, including movement of products. We don't see an issue.' Al Maya supermarket chain Group Director Kamal Vachani also said supplies from India are fine 'as of now' and urged residents not to resort to panic-buying or hoarding.

Nandakumar said Lulu Group has chartered four cargo flights from India to bring in fruits, vegetables and perishables to ensure that 'our shelves and warehouses are well-stocked in the UAE and the market remains stable in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak'.

Of the four flights, two are from Kochi and one each from Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram.

The flight from Delhi arrived on Tuesday night and one from Kochi landed on Wednesday afternoon.

Nandakumar said the chartered flights would now ply on a daily basis owing to the suspension of commercial aircrafts in the UAE, a measure taken to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Gulf nation, where the total infections has reached over 330.

'The Essential Commodities Act in India provides for the free movement of rice, wheat, sugar and other essential commodities. We are making all efforts to ensure that we have enough supplies for the coming days,' Vachani said. PTI SCY