Government forms minietrial-level committee to solve logistic issue

The government has formed a ministerial-level committee to alleviate supply chain problems as India experiences one of the longest curfews in history.

Chaired by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Interior Minister Amit Shah, the committee was tasked with ensuring an unimpeded supply of essential items during the lockdown. Seven secretaries from the ministries of consumer affairs, road transport, civil aviation, maritime transport, textiles, health and the president of the Railway Commission are members of the committee which will meet daily at 11 a.m. video conference

On March 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown, the most comprehensive measure of any government to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

This decision, deemed essential by experts, but hastily drawn, plunged the country’s logistics system into disarray while local administrations are disoriented by the excessive interpretation of government decrees.

“The greatest need now is for the entire administration to work in tandem and execute orders in unison. As a result, the committee has been formed to collect daily contributions and coordinate to resolve the issues, ”said an official, who is part of the committee.

For example, according to the minutes of yesterday’s meeting, Priyank Bharti, an assistant secretary to the Ministry of Road Transport, raised the issue of truckers facing food shortages on their way, as all roadside restaurants are closed. He also mentioned that local police authorities arrested the freight carriers.

Following this, the Ministry of the Interior issued an instruction to all chief secretaries to ensure the movement of people associated with the transport of essential supplies and their precise classification.

Officials who attended the meeting said that the northeastern states had raised the issue of slowing the supply of essentials, including food and medicine. “The obstacle was that there weren’t enough freight planes available to supply, because the air regulator DGCA did not allow passenger planes to be used for freight transportation. This has been resolved to date, because Air India and private airlines are now allowed to transport food and medicine, “said a second official who is on the committee.

Air India used both A320s and smaller ATRs on Saturday to operate 12 flights to transport medicine and food to Imphal, Agartala, Bhubaneshwar and Raipur. Similarly, the private airline IndiGo operated two A320s carrying supplies.

The aerospace major Boeing has sent a proposal to Spicejet and Air India Express to convert their 737 passenger aircraft to cargo aircraft. “We are evaluating the proposal because the airliners are now grounded anyway,” said a SpiceJet executive.

A senior Indian Railways official said that, at the suggestion of yesterday’s committee alone, 34,648 cars were carrying supplies to keep supply chains running. Of these, 23,682 cars of sugar, salt, coal and petroleum products were transported by Indian railways in 425 rakes to ensure the proper functioning of supply chains. The total number of cars carrying essential products in the past five days has thus reached approximately 1,25,000. “The priority for the national carrier will be the delivery of essential products such as rice, wheat, sugar, salt and In the past three days, we have already increased the load of essential products.

With the committee also in place, we would ensure that these goods are delivered over long distances. To monitor the uninterrupted movement of essential goods on the Indian rail network, an emergency cargo monitor is working at the Ministry of Railways, said a statement from the Indian Railways. Said a senior railway official.

Consumer goods business leaders believe the committee should be flexible enough to change the definition of essential and non-essential products.

“We have factories in Maharashtra and Karnataka that produce sodium hypochlorite which is used as a raw material to make disinfectants. With lockdown, we are unable to manufacture and distribute these chemicals to hospitals or residential complexes. This has to be put into essentials, “said a 3M executive, an MNC in health products. Consumer Secretary Pawan Kumar Agarwal raised the issue at the meeting on Saturday.

“The essential term is generalized. Many of these items that were not essential under government law have become essential now, “said SP Singh, principal researcher and coordinator of the Indian Transport Research and Training Foundation, adding that due to that, truckers are now stranded with goods on the highway as the factories have been closed.

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