Police Wrongfully Seizing Trucks Carrying Essential Items in Some States, May Lead to Shortage: Govt

Representative image (PTI Photo)

Representative image (PTI Photo)

In a communication to chief secretaries of all states, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said guidelines on lockdown exemptions were not being implemented in letter and spirit.

New Delhi: The Union government on Sunday said that guidelines on exemptions during lockdown were not being followed properly in some parts of the country and vehicles carrying essential and non-essential items were being detained by police that could lead to potential shortage of commodities.

In a communication to chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said it has come to the notice that in some parts of the country the guidelines and clarifications on exemptions given to people and services are not being implemented in letter and spirit during the ongoing 21-day lockdown.

Specifically, trucks carrying essential and non-essential goods are being detained and workers needed for operation of manufacturing units of essential goods, and other exempted categories are not getting authorisations/passes for their movement during lockdown, he said.

Any restriction of activities specifically permitted by the home ministry has the potential of creating shortages of essential commodities, he said.

With a view to bring clarity at the implementation level, the official listed the measures for strict observance by 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 licence.

This is irrespective of the nature of the cargo, whether essential or otherwise. No further permit or approval would be required, the home secretary said.

The home secretary said inter-state movement of goods and personnel with passes and authorisations issued by authorities of one state or UT government are not being respected by the authorities of other States/ UTs.

Operations of cold storage and warehouses are not being allowed.

As per the guidelines issued by the home ministry, 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 and road permit etc, Bhalla said.

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.

The home secretary said railways, airports, seaports and customs authorities have already been authorised to issue passes for their staff and contractual labour and this should be ensured.

Regarding issuance of passes to workers engaged in the manufacturing of permitted categories, the state/UT governments have been advised to expeditiously issue passes on the basis of authorisations issued by companies/ organisations.

The state/UT governments shall ensure that these passes are honoured both for movement within their areas and in bordering areas of other states/UTs.

Bhalla said 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.

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) where state governments/ local authorities have imposed restrictions for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

"It is clarified that movement of persons and vehicles, as above, shall be subject to strict adherence to norms of hygienic and social distancing, as is required in the context of COVID- 19," the letter said.

Bhalla said all district authorities and field agencies must be informed of the above instructions, so that there is no ambiguity at the ground level, and activities allowed by the home ministry are carried without any hindrance.

The 21-day lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 in a bid to combat coronavirus.

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