Ensure no curbs on movement of essentials, services MHA

New Delhi, March 25 : The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has directed all states and Union Territories to exempt the supply chain and transportation of essential goods and services in the face of the 21-day lockdown across the country over the coronavirus pandemic. The Ministry in a letter to the Chief Secretaries and Directors General of Police of all states and Union Territories also directed to enforce the social distancing and isolation along with the exemption to supply of goods to break the chain of COVID-19 transmission outbreak. "While it is imperative to successfully implement the notified lockdown restrictions, it is also necessary to ensure the unhindered operation of manufacturing, processing, transportation, distribution, storage, trade & commerce and logistics related to all services and establishments and commodities required for the delivery of essential services, which have been exempted under the various prohibitory orders," the order issued on Tuesday said. In order to ensure that these provisions are seamlessly available at ground level, it is directed that each state and UT should set up a round-the-clock control room or office with helplines at state and district level to address any grievance or undue problems faced by the providers of goods and services including during inter-state movement. A nodal officer in a state may be appointed to coordinate with the district administration and police in this matter, said the order. "This is necessary to ensure continuity of supply chain for essential commodities, several of which may be of a perishable nature." The Ministry directed to lay down a Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for unhindered operation of essential services and establishments and commodities, including appointment of nodal officers at inter-state borders, issue of vehicular passes and e-passes. It is advised that the state helpline facility ensure adequate protection to essential service providers government or public sector employees and healthcare workers engaged in providing essential services or requisitioned for administrative exigencies in each state and UT. The aim is to avoid any unwanted stigmatization by any local persons on any grounds in an exposed environment like hospitals, public facilities and essential service facilities. The Ministry also directed the states and UTs to issue suitable directions to set up a nodal control room or office with helplines in the state and appoint a nodal officer immediately. As per the order, the state and UTs will have to share the details of the nodal officer and helpline number with central control room in the Ministry of Home Affairs and that these facilities should be given wide publicity. The direction came after the Prime Minister declared a complete lockdown of the country for 21 days till April 14 from Wednesday midnight. The Ministry of Home Affairs has already issued guidelines with the directions for their strict implementation, on the measures to be taken by the ministries and departments of government of India and state and UT governments for containment of COVID-19 epidemic in the country. The lockdown has also been declared by many states and UT governments. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued advisories for various precautionary measures, including social distancing. /IANS


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