NEW DELHI: The consumer affairs ministry on Friday urged all the state and local governments to exempt e-commerce operations, including their warehousing and logistics facilities and services, from any type of prohibitory orders amid coronavirus scare so that there is no shortage of essential items.
In a communication to chief and home secretaries of states, consumer affairs secretary Pawan Agrawal cited that several state governments and local administrations have issued prohibitory orders including imposition of Section 144 mandating closures in order to ensure social distancing.
“In such a situation to ensure that there is no disruption or panic, therefore state governments and local administration are advised to exempt e-commerce operations (warehousing and logistics facilities and services) wholesaler, their vendors and third party delivery partners who are part of the supply and logistics chain ecosystem, from any type of prohibitory orders,” the letter said.
However, the letter said the e-commerce players are required to maintain hygiene and sanitation in their facilities and vehicles. The state government agencies may inspect them and ensure that these are disinfected.
An inter-ministerial group met with all the major e-commerce players to take stock of their preparedness to meet any crisis. TOI has learnt that these companies told the government that they have enough stock to meet the requirement for three months and in case there is panic buying they can mange the demand for 40-45 days.
“The government has told the e-commerce firms that there is enough stock of three essential food items – rice, wheat and pulses – in the central buffer stock. They can pick up the items at government notified rate and supply these items to consumers,” a source said.
Govt fixes prices for masks & sanitisers
The government on Friday fixed Rs 100 as MRP for 200 ml of hand sanitisers and prices for face masks have also been fixed at Rs 10 and Rs 8 for 3 ply and surgical masks respectively. The consumer affairs ministry also capped the price of special fabric used for making masks, which has increased to Rs 3,500 per kg from Rs 300 within a couple of weeks.
All the notified prices will be in force till June 30.
On Thursday, the ministry fixed the MRP of alcohols used in manufacturing hand sanitizers under the Essential Commodities Act. It had said the price of these alcohols must not be more than the prevailing price as on March 5.