The central government reiterated its call asking states and Union Territories (UTs) not to restrict inter-state and intra-state movement of vehicles carrying essential commodities.
During its routine media interaction on the COVID-19 situation in the country, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Monday said that the states need to follow the government guidelines on the lockdown “in letter and spirit”.
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.
Joint Secretary in the MHA Punya Salila Srivastava clarified that all trucks and goods carriers are allowed to move within and outside states, irrespective of the nature of the cargo, whether essential or otherwise.
The MHA official further notified that truck drivers would not require additional permits from state authorities for movement of goods. “Empty trucks or goods carriers are also allowed—since they may be going for pickup of goods or returning after delivery,” Srivastava added.
For an empty truck, the driver may additionally carry an invoice or e-way bill for pick-up or delivery of goods.
The MHA has asked local authorities to facilitate the movement of truck drivers and cleaners from their place of residence to the location of their trucks and back. It also advised states and Union territories to issue passes to workers of industrial/commercial firms which are exempted from lockdown restrictions.
Among other instructions, the MHE informed, workers belonging to the MSME sector and employed in essential items such as atta, dal and edible oil should be allowed to function freely. Warehouses and cold storages too should be allowed to operate, whether or not these are for essential items.
Recognising that businesses with nation-wide supply chains are facing difficulties in obtaining passes, the MHA on April 03 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.
Besides, the MHA 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.