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Centre, state governments seek to ensure stable supplies

Disruptions due to lockdown

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Disruptions due to lockdown
Disruptions due to lockdown

In News:

  • As India went into a 21-day lockdown from 25th March, the Centre, states and local administrations have been trying to resolve disruptions in essential services, especially delivery of food, groceries and medicines.

Background:

  • After the announcement of the countrywide lockdown, the Ministry of Home Affairs had asked all enforcement authorities to note that the strict restrictions are related to the movement of people, but not to that of essential goods and services.
  • As per MHA, all commercial and private establishments shall be closed, except ration shops (under the PDS), dealing with food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths, meat and fish, animal fodder.
  • Further, the delivery of all essential goods, including food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment through e-commerce would be allowed, to minimize the movement of individuals outside their homes.

Disruptions in supply:

  • Many essential daily products have gone off the shelves primarily because movement of trucks between factories, warehouses and grocery stores have been hit by curfews.
  • Across cities, staples were either in short supply or unavailable in shops and not being home delivered by e-retailers.
  • Following the confusion around labour movements, distributors across the country have stopped operations and are waiting for things to settle down.

Administration’s response to disruptions:

  • In a circular to the chief secretaries and DGPs of all states, the home ministry said that while it was important to successfully implement the notified lockdown, it was also necessary to exempt delivery of essential services from various prohibitory orders.
  • All states were asked to set up 24×7 control rooms and appoint nodal officers to ensure seamless supply and availability of essential commodities and services during the lockdown.
  • The ministry also stressed on the need for laying down a standard operating protocol for unhindered operation of essential services/establishments and commodities.
  • The Home Ministry said the state helpline facilities will also be made available to ensure adequate protection to essential service providers from any unwanted harassment by any local person.

Measures taken in various parts of the country:

  • In Gurgaon and Noida, the NCR authorities issued notifications allowing e-comm companies delivering groceries and cooked meals to run operations after being flooded with complaints of cancelled orders.
  • All grocery, milk and vegetable shops in Noida and Greater Noida will be open from 6am to 11pm and the vegetable wholesale market in Noida will ensure availability of supplies to delivery apps.
  • In Maharashtra, the state government has instructed the police to facilitate movement of vendors offering doorstep delivery of food items, medicines and all other commodities exempted from the lockdown.
  • The transport department notified that apart from stickers on heavy goods vehicles ferrying essential commodities, transporters would be issued a certificate each that would have to be shown at check posts.
  • Punjab police has engaged Zomato, Swiggy, Verka and Amul for door-to-door supply of essentials in Amritsar, Ludhiana and Patiala.
  • Moreover, for medicines, the administration would tie up with pharmacy associations so that orders could be taken over phone and delivered at home.

Impact of measures taken:

  • Following an assurance from the authorities that delivery agents and trucks delivering goods would not be stopped by the police, all the major e-commerce companies have decided to resume operations in due course.

Also Read: Editorial Analysis: Mobile policy gets it right

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