Covid-19 lockdown: Government says no ban on inter-state movement of trucks
The Union government on Monday reminded states that no restrictions can be imposed on the inter-state and intra-state movement of goods trucks.
A day before the lockdown is to end, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced that the states need to follow the government guidelines on the lockdown in letter and spirit during the daily press briefing on the Covid-19 situation in the country.
Punya Salila Srivastava, the joint secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs clarified that all trucks are allowed to move within and outside states.
"The Home Ministry has written to states asking them to follow lockdown guidelines of MHA in letter and spirit. Both inter-state and intra-state movement of trucks and goods carriers are allowed, whether or not goods are essential," she said.
The MHA also clarified that truck drivers will not require additional permits from state authorities for movement of goods. "No separate permit or approval is required for cargo movement. Empty trucks or goods carriers are also allowed - since they may be going for pickup of goods or returning after delivery," Srivastava added.
As per the MHA guidelines, along with the truck driver, one more person is allowed in the goods carrier. "We have asked local authorities to proactively facilitate the truck driver and cleaner of trucks to travel from their homes to the truck location," the joint secretary said.
The Centre also asked local authorities to cooperate and facilitate the transport of workers of those organizations which have received permission to undertake official or commercial activities. It asked states and Union territories to issue passes to workers of those firms which are exempted from lockdown restrictions.
"Workers belonging to the MSME sector and employed in essential items such as atta, dal and edible oil should not face any hurdles. Warehouses and cold storages too should be allowed to operate, whether or not these are for essential items. These instructions are applicable to all areas except hot spots and containment areas," Srivastava said.
"Through these measures, we can ensure that there is no shortage whatsoever of essential commodities and services during the lockdown," she added.
The reminder comes a day after the Union government 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 a 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 the operation of manufacturing units of essential goods, and other exempted categories are not getting authorisations/passes for their movement during the lockdown, he said.
Any restriction of activities specifically permitted by the home ministry has the potential of creating shortages of essential commodities, he said.
The 21-day lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 in a bid to combat coronavirus.