Amid Covid-19 second wave, Centre may not weigh in on ‘essential’ debate

Will let states define what kind of e-com deliveries will be allowed

Topics

Coronavirus | Coronavirus Tests | Lockdown


Shreya Nandi  | 
New Delhi 

essential goods

Despite several requests from the industry to define essential and non-essential commodities, the Centre has indicated that it will not step in. Instead, it will let the respective state governments take a call on categorising essential and non-essential goods, as localised lockdowns have been imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19. Senior government officials said that, right now, the central government’s priority is to ensure supplies to micro containment zones. Deliveries of non-essential items may have to wait until after the second wave peaks. “Our focus is on saving lives right now. It’s for the states to define (what are essential and non-essential goods) in accordance with their requirements. They will take a call for the time being or at least till we hit a peak (number of Covid-19 cases),” a senior government official told Business Standard. The Centre may step when cases start declining, if required and may look at allowing e-commerce companies to deliver non-essential items.

For the time being, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) will not step in and leave it on the states to make their rules on delivery, the official explained. To be sure, unlike last year, there isn’t a nationwide lockdown this time around. While Maharashtra was the first state to impose a curfew, several other states, including Delhi, Jharkhand, followed suit and imposed restrictions as cases spiked. However, unlike last year, supply chains have not been disrupted this year and e-commerce logistics have not seen a massive impact. Some states have also imposed night curfew and district-wise lockdowns. Nearly 350,000 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 24 hours in India, according to Union health ministry data as on Sunday. While the e-commerce industry has been asking for all kinds of deliveries to be allowed, without distinction of essential or non-essential goods, offline traders have said that if e-commerce firms are allowed to operate without restrictions, then traders in physical markets should also be allowed to operate business activities pertaining to non-essential goods. “We also need to look at the broader perspective,” the official cited above said, adding that the Centre will intervene in the future, if needed. Earlier this month, industry body National Assoc­iation of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) had written to the CEO of Maharashtra Industrial Develo­pment Corp­oration, secretary of the DPIIT, and secretary of the home ministry, requesting them to allow e-commerce companies to deliver all goods and services and not restrict them to just “essential” ones.

COVID UPDATES

  • Italy and Germany impose travel ban from India
  • Rajasthan and Maharashtra to vaccinate all above 18 for free
  • India fastest in World to administer 140 million Covid vaccines
  • Himachal Pradesh imposes a night curfew in 4 districts from April 27 to May 10
  • Union minister Babul Supriyo tests Covid-positive for the second time
  • UP govt has placed an order for 10 mn doses of anti-Covid jabs for the vaccin­ation drive

TOUGHT CALL

  • Govt will let the respective state governments take a call on categorising essential and non-essential goods
  • Deliveries of non-essential items may have to wait until after the second wave peaks
  • The Centre may step in when cases start declining, if required and may look at allowing e-commerce companies to deliver non-essential items
  • Offline traders have said that if e-commerce firms are allowed to operate without restrictions, then traders in physical markets should also be allowed to operate business activities pertaining to
  • non-essential goods


Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.


We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Mon, April 26 2021. 06:12 IST