New Delhi: Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued consolidated guidelines on lockdown measures to be taken by all Ministries/Departments of Government of India, States/Union Territory Governments and State/Union Territory Authorities for containment of COVID-19 epidemic in the country https://mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/PR_Consolidated%20Guideline%20of%20MHA_28032020%20%281%29_0.PDF.
Subsequent clarifications to these guidelines were also issued to ensure availability of essential goods and services across the country and prevent hardships to the people.
MHA has directed States to implement lockdown guidelines in letter & spirit to ensure smooth movement of inter & intrastate cargo, trucks, workers and functioning of warehouse/cold storages, as it has come to the notice of the Ministry that in some parts of the country, the aforesaid guidelines and clarifications are not being implemented in letter and spirit. Specifically,
trucks carrying essential and non-essential goods are being detained;
workers needed for operation of manufacturing units of essential goods, and other exempted categories are not getting authorizations/ passes for their movement;
inter State movement of goods and personnel related to above two categories is getting impeded as passes/ authorizations issued by authorities of one State/ UT Government are not being respected by the authorities of other States/ UTs; and
operations of cold storage and warehouses are not being allowed.
Such restrictions, with regard to activities specifically permitted by MHA, have the potential of creating shortages of essential commodities. With a view to brining in clarity at the implementation level, MHA has reiterated that the following guidelines are to be observed strictly by the authorities at various levels:
Inter-state and intra-state movement of all trucks and other goods / carrier vehicles with one driver and one additional person is allowed as long as the driver is carrying a valid driver’s license. This is irrespective of the nature of the cargo, whether essential or otherwise. No further permit or approval would be required.
Empty trucks/ goods carriers should also be allowed to operate while on way to pick up goods, or returning after completing a delivery. Hence, there is no cause to stop empty trucks provided they have valid documents such as driving license & road permit etc.
Local authorities should actively facilitate the movement of truck drivers and cleaners from their place of residence to location of their trucks.
Local authorities should facilitate the easy to and fro movement of workers to workplace and back, in respect of all the permitted industrial/ commercial activities.
Railways, Airports, Seaports, and Customs authorities have already been authorized to issue passes for their staff and contractual labour. This may be ensured.
Regarding issuance of passes to workers engaged in the manufacturing of permitted categories, the State/ UT Governments are advised to expeditiously issue passes on the basis of authorizations issued by companies/ organizations. The State/ UT Governments shall ensure that these passes are honored both for movement within their State/ UT and in bordering areas of other States/ UTs.
MSMEs engaged in the manufacture of essential items like wheat flour (atta), pulses (dal) and edible oils should be allowed to function freely, without any hindrances.
Warehouses/ cold storage should be allowed to freely function with allowance for to and fro movement of trucks and without regard to the nature of the goods, whether essential or otherwise. Warehouses of companies should also be allowed to operate.
It has further been directed that these stipulations will apply to all areas other than the areas requiring containment, quarantine and surveillance measures (hotspots) as per the guidelines of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India where State Governments/local authorities have imposed restrictions for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The communication re-emphasized that movement of persons and vehicles, as above, would be subject to strict adherence to norms of hygiene and social distancing, as is required in the context of COVID-19. All States have been requested to inform district authorities and field agencies regarding the above instructions, so that there is no ambiguity at the ground level, and activities allowed by MHA are carried without any hindrance.