15 Apr 2020

Lockdown exit plan: Transporters await formal clarification on MHA guidelines

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the country-wide lockdown will continue into May 3, the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a list of additional activities that may be permitted after April 20.

While many of the instructions for the supply chain and logistics sector in the circular are reiterations of the MHA's April 12  circular, the language of the circular has sparked some confusion.

Mahendra Arya, All India Transporters' Welfare Association (AITWA) told CNBC-TV18 that there was a question mark about whether the activities permitted after April 20, according to Wednesday's notice, will not be allowed to continue presently, as directed by the April 12 circular.

The supply chain committee monitoring the situation has internally clarified to the sector that transport services, both essential and non-essential, will continue in the spirit of the April 12 circular and that a circular clarifying this is likely to be issued soon.

MHA's instructions for the operation of transport and supply chain services

Inter-state & Intra-state movement of vehicles, carrying either essential or non-essential, with two drivers and one additional person is now allowed as long as the drivers carry valid drivers' licenses. Earlier, the government had allowed only one driver and one helper to travel in each truck. According to AITWA, letting an additional person travel in a truck will ensure that drivers who are healthy and willing to work, but did not have means to travel or were worried about police brutality can come back to city hubs.

Airports and air cargo facilities, sea ports, land ports and authorized carry and forwarding agents (CFAs) will be allowed to function.

Empty trucks/goods carriers will be allowed to operate while on the way to pick up goods, or return after completing a delivery. Hence, there is no cause to stop empty trucks provided they have valid documents such as driving license, road permit, etc. No additional permit will be required.

Local authorities are directed to facilitate the movement of staff and contractual labour for operation of sea ports, land ports, railways, air carriers and ICDs from their place of residence to work. Transporters say this will enable factories to unload vehicles so that empty trucks can be sent back for the transport of essential goods.

Railways, airport, sea ports and customs authorities have already been authorized to issue passes for the movement of staff and contractual labour, which will be useful in expediting operations for transporters who provide support for import/ export and rail/air movement.

The government has also said that warehouses and cold storage units should be allowed to function, and to and fro movement of trucks from warehouses should be permitted.

The Ministry, while issuing these clarifications, has said that no relaxations are applicable in areas categorized as containment zones and that all operations must be conducted with the help of skeletal manpower.