covid impact: Govt issues fresh guideline on exemption for agriculture operations

NEW DELHI: After exemption for essential services and goods, the union home ministry issued fresh guideline exempting additional categories related to agricultural operations. “They have been exempted under the Disaster Management Act, with respect to the 21- day lock-down,” a union home ministry order stated.

The second addendum issued by union home secretary Ajay Bhalla on Friday exempted farm workers in the fields and farming operations by farmers, agencies engaged in procurement of agriculture products including MSPs, mandis notified by the State governments, inter and intra-state movement of harvesting and sowing related machines and manufacturing, packaging units of fertilisers, pesticides and seeds among others.

During the 21 day lockdown, movement of public transport has been restricted while markets, schools, and other establishment have been closed. Only essential services and goods are allowed during the lockdown period.

On Thursday, the home ministry has come up with standard operating procedures (SOPs) for delivery of essential services through e-commerce and asked States and Union Territories to notify measures to specify shops, including ration units dealing with food, groceries, fruits, vegetables, milk products among others to ensure supplies.

Noting that the availability of essential goods takes place through small local retail shops, large organized retail stores and e-commerce companies, union home secretary said the suppliers of essential goods, including restaurants supplying home delivery of cooked food items are exempted. “It is provided that delivery of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment through e-Commerce will remain operational,” the order had said.

According to MHA, “All facilities in the supply chain of essential goods whether involved in manufacturing, wholesale or retail of such goods through local stores, large brick and mortar stores or e-Commerce companies should be allowed to operate ensuring strict social distancing.” Officials said the order was issued after reports of law enforcing agencies in various parts of the country clamping down movement of those involved in production and supply of essential services and goods.

The home ministry has earlier cautioned State authorities and police regarding the movement of those employed in the supply chain and said, “Employees or persons engaged in the supply chain shall be allowed to commute on the basis of e-pass or any other certification Issued by the concerned local authority. In addition, the said employee/ person shall carry a valid photo identification card.”

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