Effective today, e-commerce delivery boys will be able to flash identity cards issued by their respective firms such as Flipkart, Big Basket or Grofers, among others, as access pass through nationwide lockdown to be able to deliver essential commodities and groceries ordered by consumers.
This paves the way for these firms to start deliveries 24x7--including overnight deliveries--to exhaust the backlog of millions of orders that remain undelivered for the past 4-5 days.
Rapid fire meetings between Home Secretary and e-commerce firms since this morning followed by meetings at state level with police commissioners and state DGPs have cleared grounds for the solution.
"We are grateful for the clarification provided by the government and local state authorities on the functioning of e-commerce as 'essential service' during the lockdown. We have been assured of the safe and smooth passage of our supply chain and delivery executives by local law enforcement authorities and are resuming our grocery & essentials services later today," Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO Flipkart Group told BusinessToday.In. Flipkart will restart deliveries at 7 pm today.
Grofers tweeted: "We will start accepting orders and delivering your essential groceries at the earliest. Local authorities are helping us in restarting our operations".
"Grocery delivery is an essential service, and therefore we are trying our best to continue our operations as usual during the lockdown. As we do all this, one thing that will help us and other grocery delivery companies is better coordination between the Centre and State, and between the State and local police, to ensure that our delivery vans and bikes don't get stopped by the police, so that we can deliver grocery essentials without any interruptions. Demand continues to be quite high and we expect this to continue over the next few days and weeks," a Big Basket spokesperson told BusinessToday.In.
It was agreed that the earlier proposal to issue specific curfew passes to every delivery boy in each city--which may still be pursued by a few states--was considered too cumbersome and time consuming to resolve the crisis quickly as deliveries nationwide had ground to a halt.
While Centre had conveyed its advisory to all states to allow all essential services, including e-commerce, to function during the lockdowns, states did not explicitly convey the directions to the policy authorities who are implementing the lockdown.
As a result, local authorities, police stations and Nakas misinterpreted the lockdown as equivalent of a curfew ordering e-commerce warehouses to shut down, stopping cross-border movement of goods at state borders and harassing--even beating up--delivery boys to implement the lockdown.
Flipkart, Big Basket and Grofers, among other delivery firms, had to stop operations to work with local authorities to restart deliveries as per Centre's directives.
However, timely intervention of the Home Secretary, consumer affairs ministry as well as DPIIT since this morning appears to have resolved the crisis.
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