In a big relief to ecommerce players and consumers in Assam, the state government has included ecommerce operators and their delivery staff under the list of exempted persons and entities who can move around freely even in the lockdown hours of 2 pm and 5 am.
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Till now, ecommerce players could only deliver essential items including food, medicines and medical equipment between 5 am and 2 pm. They will, however, continue to deliver essential stuff only, but without restrictions.
In a sign that the second wave of Covid-19 may have started waning in the state, Assam in its latest notification has also done away with the odd-even formula for private vehicles to ply on the roads during non-lockdown hours. Otherwise, vehicles with even registration numbers were allowed to ply only on even dates, and those with odd numbers only on odd dates.
In Mumbai, officials are trying to figure out ways to ease curbs on goods carriers entering Maharashtra.
The government had on Wednesday said drivers and helpers of goods carrier entering the state
must carry a negative RT-PCR certificate that is not older than 48 hours with effect from May 15. The notification had also mandated that a cargo carrier cannot have more than two people.
Ecommerce firms and transport operators have sought a review of the order, claiming that such a move would effectively mean they are banned from entering the state, including for bringing in essential goods and critical medical supplies.
“This shows a lack of understanding of how the supply chain operates and its interconnected nature,” said a senior ecommerce executive.
Instead of imposing curbs on them, truck drivers should be declared as frontline workers as they are integral to keeping supply lines working for the entire country, the person said.
Senior officials in southern said Maharashtra’s decision will not only hurt people and businesses in Maharashtra but other states as well. Thousands of trucks carrying goods and essential items from one state to another pass through Maharashtra, and all these states will be badly hurt if Maharashtra does not change its policy, they said.
This will also go against the spirit of the Union home ministry’s guidelines to promote free movement of goods transport across the country without hurdles.
ET had reported on May 12 how
ecommerce firms have been delivering goods ranging from electronics, books and clothing to consumers in lockdown-hit states despite them lacking clarity from states on what constitutes essential and non-essential goods. A slew of states, including Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi, have restricted ecommerce players from delivering non-essentials.
These companies have argued that defining essential and non-essential commodities is a subjective matter and hurts consumers at a time when the focus should be to ensure they stay home.
Apart from lobbying to allow them to deliver all goods to consumers, the e-retail industry has also suggested that the government allow offline stores to function through a home delivery mechanism, after traders complained that allowing ecommerce to function for delivery of non-essentials was unfair to them.