The Logistics and Supply Chain sector has obtained a nod of approval to operate as per the fresh guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday. These detailed guidelines are in the context of the extended lockdown till May 3 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as announced by the Prime Minister recently.

Starting from 20th April, 2020, the government will approve key parts of the economy to function- viz. agriculture, logistics, e-commerce, and infrastructure, and also clear the logistics jam that was created due to stalled movement of trucks on highways.  However, these will only be allowed if strict adherence to social distancing and self-precautionary measures is maintained.

Cold Storage and Warehousing services, including those at ports, airports, railways stations, Container Depots, individual units and other links in the logistics chain will be allowed.

The Supply, Movement and Transport Services that have been allowed by the Centre, have been discussed as under.

Movement:

According to the MHA guidelines, the movement, unloading/loading of cargo or goods,(both intra and inter -state) will be allowed after 20th of April. The movement of all goods traffic will be allowed during the relaxation period.  The movement of all trucks and other goods or carrier vehicles with two drivers and one helper will be allowed, given that the driver carries a valid driving license. Also, an empty truck/vehicle will be allowed to ply after the delivery or for the pick-up of goods.

The guidelines also mention that shops for truck repairs and dhabas on highways will be allowed if they have a stipulated minimum distance as prescribed by the State/UT authorities.

Staff Movement: The movement of staff and contractual labour for operations of railways,airports/air carriers, seaports/ship/vessels, land ports and ICDs is allowed on passes being issued by the local authority on the basis of authorizations issued by the perspective designated authority for the same.

Transportation: Air, Rail, Land and Sea

Operation of Airways and related facilities for air transport will be open for cargo movement, relief and evacuation.

Operation of Railways will be likewise restricted to transportation of goods and parcel trains.

For Seaports and Inland Container Depots(ICDs), the operations will be open for cargo transport, including authorized custom clearing and forwarding agents. 

For landports, operations will be open for cross border transportation of essential goods, including petroleum products and LPG, food products, medical supplies.


E-commerce gets nod to function

In what comes as a sigh of relief, the guidelines also state commercial and private establishments that will be allowed to operate, under which, e-commerce has been given approval. Vehicles used by e-commerce operators will be allowed to ply with necessary permissions.

Manufacturing units of essential goods, including drugs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices their raw material and intermediates will be allowed to operate. Also, transport, manufacture and supply chain of milk and milk products have been allowed to operate. 

However, these guidelines will not apply to containment zones and areas with COVID-19 infections. Restrictions in these areas will continue. It may also be mentioned that the new permissions are conditional and will be withdrawn immediately if rules are not followed leading to the further spread of pandemic, or if newer containment zones are identified.