In an advisory to states, home secretary Ajay Bhalla clarified that private laboratories have been exempted from the lockdown and asked chief secretaries to ensure that movement of lab technicians and transportation of samples, along with opening of temporary collection centres, should not face any hurdles. The move will benefit a host of private labs, which have been roped in for coronavirus-related tests as well.
While refusing to put out an elaborate list of food and grocery items, the Centre has advised states to interpret it in a way that includes products that are consumed on a day-to-day basis.
The rule of passes has been eased to aid companies that have a national supply chain, since they have been repeatedly complaining of difficulties in obtaining them at the district level. Bhalla noted the concern in his communication to the states.
As a result, states and Union territories have been advised to issue authorisation letters to companies with national supply chains of essential goods, allowing them to issue regional passes for easy movement of staff and workers. The Centre, however, said the number of such passes should be kept to “bare minimum”.
The move will be beneficial to entities operating in states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Punjab in aiding the movement of essentials.
Similarly, designated authorities from railways, ports and airports may be allowed by the states and UTs to issue passes for critical staff members and contractual labour engaged in loading and unloading of goods. Again, the home secretary pointed out that this was being proposed due to problems in getting passes.
A third change was to ease the inter-state movement of goods by roads. The Centre noted that there were difficulties faced by trucks on their return journey after unloading goods, as they were often stopped by local authorities and the police during the lockdown. To overcome this issue, truck drivers will have to produce the electronic way bill issued by GST Network, or the invoice for easy passage.
The change in rules follows industry consultations with commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal earlier this week as well as deliberations that department for promotion of industry and internal trade secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra had last week.