New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Sunday allowed godowns (warehouses) and cold storages to store any goods as it exempted them from the COVID19 lockdown while directing states and Union Territories to follow the measures as well as ensuring the movement of employees of manufacturing units of essential goods.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla gave the instructions in a fresh letter to the state and UT Chief Secretaries and authorities on Sunday.
He reminded the states and UTs to ensure the movement of inter-state and intra-state cargo movement of essential goods.
"Union Home Ministry on Sunday again issued a clarification to the state and Union Territory (UT) governments instructing that there is no restriction on inter-state or intra-state cargo movement of essential items or any other items," a ministry official said in a press briefing.
"Godowns and cold storages can store any kind of goods. The godowns inside the company premises are also under exempted category. It is also directed to all state authorities to ensure the movement of employees of the manufacturing units of essential goods."
The instruction came just two days ahead of the end of the nationwide lockdown, with no word yet about its future. The movement of essential goods and services are exempted from the lockdown measures while violations are punishable under the Disaster Management Act and the Indian Penal Code as per the Home Ministry's consolidated guidelines.
COVID19 Lockdown: MHA Orders To Focus On Quick Solutions To Issues Reported At Control Room
Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the Centre is focussing on a quick solution to the issues flagged with the Union Home Ministry control room.
A team of officers of Joint Secretary and above from various ministries are engaged with the task and they try to resolve the issues in coordination with the state and Union Territory governments.
"Issues raised with the Home Ministry control room are solved by the officials of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Railways and Civil Aviations who take help of state governments for the purpose," a ministry official said.
In its persistent effort to help the needy during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Home Ministry has been addressing hundreds of calls received from people from different states. These queries were addressed by its nine control room helplines being run round-the-clock for seven days at its office.
The official also said that the state governments are trying their best in providing door to door supply of essential commodities to the people residing in hotspot areas so that they should not go out of their houses.
The state governments are also taking the help of volunteers and the civil society organisations in this effort, the official said. As per the official, Army units have also come forward at some locations and they have been extending their support in the distribution of food and increasing awareness in rural areas.
"The condition of essential commodities is under control."
The COVID-19 pandemic has so far claimed 273 lives and infected over 8,000 people across the country despite the nationwide 21-day lockdown imposed here since March 24 to break the transmission of the deadly disease.
COVID19 Lockdown: 'Take Care Of Migrant Workers As Per SC Order', MHA Asks States
The Union Home Ministry asked states and the Union Territories to abide by the Supreme Court's order on dealing with migrant workers in a humane manner.
Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla in a letter to the Chief Secretaries of states and the administrators of UTs said they should take necessary action in compliance with the apex court's direction while implementing the lockdown.
The Supreme Court's directions were linked to welfare of migrant labourers, housed at relief camps in different parts of the country.
As per the apex court order, the states and the UTs should ensure adequate medical facilities, proper arrangements for food, clean drinking water and sanitation at these camps.
Further, trained counsellors and/or community group leaders belonging to all faiths should visit the camps to deal with any consternation that the migrants might be going through.
The court said the migrants' anxiety and fear should be understood by the police and other authorities, and that they should deal with them in a humane manner. The state governments and UTs should engage volunteers along with the police to supervise the welfare of migrants, it said.
The MHA communication also reiterates the directions in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's letter to states and UTs. The Health Ministry has already issued detailed guidelines to deal with psychosocial issues among migrants.
The Supreme Court's intervention came following a plea that the migrant workers were facing problems due to the pandemic as they had lost jobs and were unable to meet their basic needs.
(With IANS Inputs)