Allow truckers to move freely across India, Centre tells States

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NEW DELHI: Taking a serious view on disrupted movement of essential goods during the lockdown, the Union Home Secretary has asked all the Chief Secretaries to ensure that trucks carrying food items and essential commodities are allowed free movement on all costs.

In his stern letter to states and Union Territories, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said that “it has come to the notice of the Ministry that trucks carrying essential goods are being detained in some parts of the country”.

The Centre has cautioned the States that if such a situation continues then it has the potential of creating shortage of essential items.

Similarly in some parts of the country, operations of cold storage and warehouses are not being allowed. Workers required for operations of manufacturing units are not being given adequate passes for movement. Besides, passes or authority letters of free movement of trucks and workers, issued by one state, are not being respected by officials of other states.

Such objections by different authorities have affected the transportation of goods during lockdown.

The Home Ministry has clearly instructed that free movement of trucks carrying essential and non-essential items should be allowed as long as the driver is carrying a bonafide drivers licence. The driver can be assisted by a helper.

The authorities will no longer ask the driver for any other approval. Moreover, empty trucks, returning after unloading goods will not be stopped. Workers who are on their way to join manufacturing units will be allowed to move.

All warehouses, and cold storages, spread across the country will be allowed to operate freely. The authorities will not hamper their operations during the hour of this national crisis.

“These stipulations will apply to all areas, other than areas requiring containment, quarantine and surveillance measures as per the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Eelfare,” the letter of Union Home Secretary says.

Earlier, several manufacturing and traders associations have complained that mills and factories were not functioning properly as passes were not issued to most of their workers. Transport Unions have also requested the Government that free movement of truckers should be allowed as thousands of goods carriers were stranded on various highways. Highly-placed sources said that after the fresh instructions, states have asked the district authorities to ensure free movement of transport, functioning of warehouses and smooth operations of all factories.

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