Coronavirus lockdown | Essential goods movement up, says govt.

There has been significant progress in removing bottlenecks and ensuring smooth movement of essential goods, according to Parameswaran Iyer, chairman of the Empowered Group 5 on Logistics and Supply Chain of Essential Items.

Trucks moving food and medicines were functioning at about 46% on March 30, but have now improved to 76%. Movement of rail rakes is also operating at three-fourth of the usual rate, while ports are now handling almost 90% of their usual traffic. In a key indicator with regard to the food and farm supply chain, four out of five agricultural mandis have now been reopened, said Mr. Iyer. An online portal has been set up to connect farmers with mandis, cold storage and buyers.

COVID-19 | State-wise tracker for coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates

The empowered group is collaborating with departments at the Central and State levels, as well as industry stakeholders, to ease policy and implementation bottlenecks on the ground. For example, when a worker at the famed Nashik onion mandi tested positive for COVID-19, this team swung into action to ensure that safe and sanitary supply could be continued. Overall, there has been a focus on ensuring adequate supplies of staples such as onions, potatoes and tomatoes. Supply of milk and LPG cylinders are essentially back to pre-lockdown levels, added Mr. Iyer.

Apart from rail rakes and Lifeline Udan flights, India Post has played a critical role in transporting more than 100 million tonnes of medicines and medical equipment as well as one lakh food packets. The postal department has also helped facilitate cash transfers worth ₹730 crore to about 34 lakh people, according to Mr. Iyer.

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