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Transportation of all essential, non-essential goods allowed during lockdown: MHA

New Delhi: The Union Home Ministry on Sunday allowed the transportation of all essential and non-essential goods in the country and the use of the State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) to provide shelter to migrant workers and the homeless stranded due to the lockdown imposed to combat COVID-19.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote to chief secretaries of all states and Union territories, asking them to enure that relief camps were set up for homeless people, including migrant labourers, to provide them shelter and food.

"I would also like to inform that the central government has also allowed use of SDRF for homeless people, including migrant labourers, stranded due to lockdown measures, and sheltered in the relief camps and other places for providing them food etc., for the containment of spread of COVID-19 virus in the country," the letter read.

It said the Home Ministry had already issued an order invoking the Disaster Management Act, under which the district authorities were asked to strictly implement additional measures to stop the movement of migrant workers and provide them quarantine facilities, shelter and food, and ensure payment of wages and non-eviction by their landlords.

"Its strict implementation needs to be ensured," the home secretary said in his letter, and added that the district authorities and the field agencies should be informed so as to avoid any ambiguity at the ground level.

The letter made it clear that transportation of all goods, without distinction on grounds of essential and non-essential, has been allowed.

The home secretary also made it clear that the newspaper delivery supply chain is allowed under exemptions given for print media.

Bhalla added that the entire supply chain of milk collection and distribution, including its packing material, has also been allowed during the lockdown period, along with groceries.

"Groceries, including hygiene products such as hand wash, soaps, disinfectants, body wash, shampoos, surface cleaners, detergents and tissue papers, toothpaste/oral care, sanitary pads and diapers, battery cells, chargers etc.," are permitted during the lockdown.

The home secretary also included the services of the Indian Red Cross Society under the Establishment of National Disaster Management Authority.

The Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has also been exempted and asked to work with bare minimum staff.

A nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24 for 21 days in order to arrest the spread of coronavirus in the country.

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