In a fresh notification on Friday, the home secretary issued clarifications on transportation of goods and what constitutes essential items exempt from the 21-day lockdown restrictions in the country.
Transport and logistics service providers, as well as manufacturers of grocery and hygiene products have been citing a lack of understanding at the ground level about the nature of exemptions granted to the transport of essential items, which has been causing supply chain bottlenecks, and shortages at retail outlets.
In a letter to secretaries of states, home secretary Ajay Bhalla said differing interpretations being made on items given exemption was hindering smooth flow of supply chain of essential items.
Consequently, states and union territories have been advised to interpret food and grocery to mean all items of food and grocery usually consumed by people on a daily basis. The advisory also reiterated an earlier order which said that grocery includes hygiene goods including soaps, sanitisers, detergents and sanitary pads, among other items.
Recognising that busineses with nation-wide supply chains are facing difficulties in obtaining passes, the secretary has advised states to issue authorisation letters to companies/organisations having nationwide supply chains of essential goods, and further enable them to issue regional passes for easy movement of critical staff and workers to maintain the national supply chain.
In order to accelerate mobility and unloading of goods across the countries, designated authorities under railways, ports and airports have been now allowed to issue passes for a critical mass of staff and contractual labour essential for cargo movement, relief and evacuation operations. Earlier only district authorities were empowered to issue these permissions.
Lastly, the secretary has also instructed states to permit Inter-state and intra-state movement of all trucks and goods carriers with one driver and one other person allowed if the driver is carrying a driver's license. For an empty truck, the driver may additionally carry an invoice or e-way bill for pick-up or delivery of goods.The ministry of home affairs in a separate addendum to the guidelines issued on March 24 has allowed for truck repair shops to remain operational on highways, especially at fuel stations.