With cyclone Fani staring in their faces, people across the coastal districts have resorted to panic buying since Wednesday. Essentials vanished from market places within a few hours and prices skyrocketed.

The Naveen Patnaik government, which boasts of global appreciation and benchmark in disaster management, did precious little in terms of market intervention.

The entire focus, as always, by the government, was on the evacuation of people from low lying coastal villages.

Nobody seems to have given a thought to the market and availability of essential commodities. Potato, onion, milk and milk powder, puffed rice, bread, candles either disappeared or were sold at a premium in market places along the coastal districts.

The buying of additional essential commodities has become an essential part of the disaster preparedness on the part of people in these cyclone-prone districts, said a report from Kendrapara.

As the residents are gearing themselves to face unpredictable nature without waiting for help from government agencies, the panic buying has triggered scarcity of the essential commodities.

Essential commodities like potato, flour and flattened rice stay on the top of buyers’ list; and these commodities have gone out of stock from the markets.

“There is brisk sale in my shop. Since yesterday evening, people have gone on a buying spree. I had stock of 4 quintals of potatoes. It got exhausted by evening,” said a trader in Kendrapara town, Gopal Sahu.

There is an adequate stock of food items.

Through public address system, people have been asked not to panic. There is a possibility of unscrupulous traders of creating artificial scarcity of food items. The food and civil supplies department personnel have been asked to prevent such artificial scarcity, said Kendrapara Collector Dasarathi Satpathy.

“Our village is a vulnerable area. Therefore, we procure an additional stock of essential items each time government sounds cyclone warning,” said a resident of Gadaramita, Pravakar Biswal.

“There is a sense of preparedness among the people. Many are found buying essential commodities and ration. One may call it panic buying. The administration has procured foodstuffs and dry foods to face with the exigencies. Traders have been warned that ESMA would be invoked against them if they were found hoarding essential commodities,” said Collector Satpathy.

There are reports of people buying ration and essential items invariably in all the villages including the urban centres. Though the administration has initiated steps asking the Sarpanchs to store rations at panchayat warehouses, villagers are spontaneously buying goods for daily needs, said Rajnagar Block Development Officer, Mandaradhr Mahallick.