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Coronavirus lockdown no excuse to obstruct trucks, essential workers, MHA tells states, UTs

Restrictions on movement of goods carrier vehicles and workers have the potential of creating shortages of essential commodities, Home Ministry warned

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Coronavirus lockdown no excuse to obstruct trucks, essential workers, MHA tells states, UTs
Workers in Srinagar build personal protective equipments, or PPEs (Photo credit: PTI)

Union Ministry of Home Affairs has clarified that authorities should not hinder movement of trucks, as well as workers engaged in production off essential items and sectors exempted from nationwide coronavirus lockdown. In a letter to chief secretaries of states and administrators of union territories, the ministry pointed out that some its guidelines regarding the aforementioned matters are not being followed in certain parts of the country.

Home Ministry stated that trucks carrying essential and non-essential goods were being detained, workers needed for manufacturing essential goods and other exempted categories are not getting passes. The ministry also mentioned states and union territories not honouring authorisation granted to truck drivers and workers by other states or union territories, and warehouses and cold storages not being allowed to operate.

The aforesaid restrictions, with regard to activities specifically permitted by MHA, have the potential of creating shortages of essential commodities, the ministry warned. Further in the letter, Union Home Ministry directed that authorities shall allow trucks, authorised workers, select MSMEs, warehouses should be allowed be operate freely, presenting various clarifications in this regard.

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Regarding trucks and other goods carriers, Home Ministry clarified that all such vehicles, carrying essential as well as non-essential cargo, with one driver and a helper shall be allowed to within and between states. Even empty trucks shall be allowed to operate while on way to pick up goods or returning from a delivery. The only requirement is that the driver shall carry a valid driver's licence and road permit; no further permit would be required, MHA clarified. The ministry also directed authorities to "actively facilitate the movement of truck drivers and cleaners from their place of residence to location of their trucks".

Union Home Ministry further directed authorities to ensure easy movement of workers engaged in authorised industrial or commercial activities. "Railways, airports, seaports, and customs authorities have already been authorised to issue passes for their staff and contractual labour. This may be ensured," the ministry directed.

"Regarding issuance of passes to workers engaged in the manufacturing of permitted categories, the state/UT governments are 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 state/UT and in bordering areas of other states/UTs," it further added.

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The Home Ministry also directed authorities to allow MSMEs engaged in manufacturing of essential items as well as all warehouses and cold storages to function freely.

"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... where state governments/ local authorities have imposed restrictions for preventing the spread of COVID-19," Home Ministry stated.

The Ministry further clarified that all movement of persons and vehicles shall happen within the norms of hygiene and social distancing.

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