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Covid-19: West Bengal to issue passes for e-commerce deliveries

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on March 25, 2020

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee   -  PTI

Passes will enable movement of delivery vehicles across districts and within the city

State-wide passes will be issued to online aggregators in West Bengal to ensure seamless home delivery of groceries and essentials during the lockdown period.

The passes will enable movement of delivery boys, vehicles and vans across districts and within the city, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday.

The decision came after e-tailers like Flipkart, Amazon Pantry, Big Basket, Grofers, among others, suspended delivery services on account of ambiguity over delivery norms during the lockdown period. The e-commerce players also complained of police excesses in several parts of the country as a reason to suspend delivery services.

The country is in a 21-day long lockdown as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus. While several States implemented a lockdown of their own, the nationwide shutdown was imposed by the Prime Minister yesterday midnight onwards.

However, home deliveries by online players were not brought under the lockdown’s purview, different State governments had taken varied approaches in handling the matter.

According to Banerjee, no delivery boy or delivery van carrying supplies for home delivery, a farmer or vegetable / grocery seller will be stopped or harassed by the police. Passes will be issued and it has to be honoured across different police jurisdictions, particularly when delivery personnel or vehicles have to cross different districts.

For example, a delivery coming into Kolkata from Howrah (the two have different police jurisdictions) will not be stopped by any of the policemen if it has the requisite pass.

“I have instructed the police to ensure passes and see to it that there is no harassment or stoppage of home delivery of essentials and groceries. The message should reach out to the grassroot personnel on duty. Strict action will be taken if these are violates. Superintendent of police and district magistrates will have to oversee the implementability of these passes on respective districts,” the Chief Minister said.

West Bengal has reported nine Covid-19 positive cases, including one death.

Financial relief package

According to Banerjee, the Centre has to provide a special financial relief package to the State.

Procurement of masks, personal protective equipment and ventilators in order to control the outbreak of Covid-19 here are being done by the State on its own; and financial resources of the State are being “stretched”.

“We have made multiple requests for moratorium of interest payments to the Centre. But they have yielded no results. Under the current scenario the Centre has to give a relief package to us,” she maintained.

Banerjee had asked for an extension of the withdrawal limits under FRBM (from 3 per cent to 5 per cent of GDP).

According to her, Bengal is the gateway to other eastern and north--eastern States, and hence, there is need to maintain extra caution when it comes to raising awareness about coronavirus.

Published on March 25, 2020

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