NEW DELHI: Laying down standard operating procedures for maintaining supply of essential goods at local retail shops, large organised retail store as well as e-commerce companies, the home ministry on Thursday underlined that all constituents of the supply chain — from manufacturer to wholesaler/retailer — should be allowed to operate, while ensuring social distancing.
These constituents, home secretary Ajay K Bhalla stated in a communication sent to chief secretaries/administrators of all states/Union territories on Thursday, include suppliers of essential goods including restaurants supplying home delivery of cooked food items; storage facilities like godowns and warehouses; transporters, drivers and loaders from the place of manufacture to wholesalers/retailers; and manufacturing units of essential goods including drugs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, their raw material and intermediaries.
The SOPs forwarded to states/UTs state that all facilities in the supply chain — whether involved in manufacturing, wholesale or retail of such goods through local store, large brick and mortar stores or e-commerce companies should be allowed to function through the lockdown period. They seek to allow all facilities registered with the state govt or Union territory under the Shops and Establishment registration regime, which can be used randomly to verify the veracity of documents produced.
“While warehousing facilities and wholesalers of essential goods might have non-essential goods, they should not be closed down for the fact that non-essential items are also stored,” the SOPs stated.
The retail end, it was added, shall only operate in essential goods as specified in MHA orders. An undertaking to this effect must be furnished and subsequent audit of their records allowed.
Employees and persons engaged in supply chain shall be allowed to commute with e-pass and a valid photo ID. In the unorganised sector, persons engaged in supply of essential goods must be allowed based on authorisation by local authorities. All commercial entities will be required to ensure that they engage only bare minimum staff to supply essential goods only. They will also have to carry regular health and sanitation checkup of employees and provide them protective gear.
The state government, as per the SOPs, shall open 24×7 control room to register complaints/grievances and share these numbers widely.
Bhalla said the purpose of the lockdown measures is to prevent spread of Covid-19 by ensuring social distancing while maintaining supply of essential goods including health infrastructure and home delivery of food. He asked all enforcing authorities to note that the lockdown restrictions fundamentally relate to movement of people but not to that of essential goods. Stating that it was important to relieve the hardship of people in accessing essential goods, the home secretary said SOPs for their smooth supply were being released.