Bangladesh has agreed to allow Indian flights which are carrying supplies to the North-East of India over Bangladesh's territory to facilitate nearly 50% of trucks to move essential goods.
As an empowered group of officers looking at supply chains, the drivers of the truck are allowed to use their driving license as proof, instead of a pass while driving to North-East, reports The Economic Times.
One of the biggest out of the 11 empowered groups set up by the prime minister of India last week, the group on supply chains and logistics management has worked along with the foreign and home ministries to convince Bangladesh to give permission to Indian cargo flights passing through its territory to take supplies to the North-East. Bangladesh had grounded all domestic flights as part of its lockdown last month but told India that it had no objection to Indian flights flying over its territory.
Minister of state for PMO and Department of North-East Region (DONER) Jitendra Singh said air cargo to the north-east has been put on priority by the prime minister and the first flight with such essentials arrived in Guwahati on March 30, followed by an Indian Air Force flight to Dimapur the next day. Three such flights had landed in Manipur and Nagaland as well.
This empowered group has been focussing on unhindered movement of three kinds of goods –– food, medicines and hygiene products like soap, sanitisers, sanitary pads, diapers and shampoos. It is also focusing on as keeping mandis open so that the entire supply chain of such goods remains open.
Sources said the group has engaged with industry, stakeholders, e-commerce companies, pharmacy companies and truck-owner associations and co-opted other secretaries or ministries to get things moving.
"The last four days have seen a big difference. Almost 40-50% of the trucks in the country are now moving compared to earlier when they were stranded on highways. This has been possible as an order in conjunction with the home ministry was issued that inter-state and intra-state movement of all trucks and other goods vehicles with a driver and an additional person is allowed if the driver carries a valid driver's licence," a government source has told ET.
"Ports are also becoming functional. The effort has been to understand from the industry, the entire process of manufacturing, transportation, unloading, wholesaling and distribution of essential goods and unbundling each component. It was realised that trucks were reaching mandis or other destinations but were stranded there as there was no one to unload them. All these problems have been addressed," another source in the government said.
Powers have been delegated to states to determine what constitutes "food and grocery" and categorise essential and non-essential goods. "The supply of milk, tomato, potato and medicines has improved," the source said.
The empowered group has recommended Ahmedabad's 'Vegetable on Wheels' project for replication in all states.