This article is written by Jasmine Madaan, from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies (VIPS). This is an exhaustive article which describes the procedure to obtain an exemption pass during the lockdown.
We all must have thought about the fact that how are the doctors, police, grocery stores, etc. still working? Ever imagined a life without having access to any essential commodities or services, sounds petrifying right? Therefore, even during a lockdown, it is essential to have a continuous and efficient supply of essential goods and services.
The takeaway after reading the article will be answers to the following questions: what all comes under essential goods and services? How can one obtain an exemption pass for businesses dealing with essential goods and services? Why is the pass necessary?
Essential Goods and Services during the Crisis
During the tough phase of COVID-19 pandemic situation, it is necessary to keep the supply of certain essential goods and services uninterrupted. As the name itself suggests the goods and services which are essential for the survival of every being and country on the planet. Essential items include food, water, shelter, medicines, etc.
After combining the guidelines mentioned in all the circulars (including the circular issued on March 30, 2020, that had allowed the supply of essential as well as non-essential items) issued by Ministry of Home Affairs related to COVID-19 and the lockdown, as per Government of India, the following services and goods come under the category of “essentials” and can function even during the lockdown-
All Government of India’s offices and Public Corporations are closed, except-
- Defence, Central armed police forces;
- Treasury which includes- Pay & Accounts, Financial Advisers & field offices of Controller General of Accounts, there should be minimum staff;
- Public utilities (which also include PNG, LPG, CNG), post offices and power generation & transmission units;
- Disaster management and Early Warning Agencies ;
- National Informatics Centre;
- Customs clearance at ports/airports/land border, GSTN; and MCA 21 Registry, there should be minimum staff;
- Reserve Bank of India and RBI regulated financial markets and entities like NPCI, CCIL, payment system operators and standalone primary dealers, there should be minimum staff.
All the offices of State/ Union Territory Government, Corporations, Autonomous bodies are closed, except-
- Police, fire & emergency services, disaster management, prisons, home guards, and civil defence.
- District administration and Treasury (including field offices of the Accountant General, there should be minimum staff.
- Electricity, water, sanitation.
- Only staff of Municipal bodies required for essential services like sanitation, water supply, etc.
- Resident Commissioner of States, in New Delhi with bare minimum staff
- Workers/ Staff of forest offices required to maintain zoo, wildlife, nurseries, watering plantations, firefighters in forests, patrolling and required transport movement.
- Social welfare department for operations of Homes for children/ disables/ senior citizens/ destitute/ women /widows; Observation homes; pensions, there should be minimum staff
- Agriculture products’ procurement agencies
- ‘Mandis’ that are operated by the Agriculture Produce Market Committee or as per the State Government’s notification
All the above-mentioned offices are to work with minimum employees as major work is to be done from their homes.
All the following must remain Functional-
- Veterinary Hospitals (animals hospital),
- medical establishments: manufacturing and distributing units like dispensaries, chemists, pharmacies, laboratories, nurses, Pharmaceutical research labs, ambulances, etc.
- Transportation and other services of medical personnel, nurses, para-medical staff.
Except for the following, all other commercial & private establishments are closed:
- Ration shops dealing with food, groceries, fruits & vegetables, dairy & milk booths, meats & fish, animal fodder, fertilizers, seeds & pesticides. Home delivery of such products should be supported by the district authorities.
- Banks, insurance offices, and ATMs including IT vendors for banking operations; Banking Correspondent and ATM operation and cash management agencies.
- Print (including newspaper supply) and electronic media.
- Telecommunications, internet services, broadcasting and cable services. All IT services should be tried to be delivered from home.
- Delivery of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment through E-commerce
- Petrol pumps, LPG, Petroleum and gas retail and storage outlets.
- Power generation, transmission and distribution units and services.
- Capital and debt market services as notified by the Securities and Exchange Board of India.
- Cold storage and warehousing services.
- Private security services.
- Only data and call centres related to government activities.
- Farmers are allowed to work
- ‘Custom Hiring Centres (CHC)’ related to farm machinery.
Except for the following, all Other Industries must be closed:
- Manufacturing units of essential goods, including drugs, pharmaceutical, medical devices, their raw materials & intermediates
- Production units that require continuous process can function after obtaining permission from the State Government
- Coal and mineral production, transportation, the supply of explosives and activities incidental to mining operations.
- Manufacturing units of packaging material for food items, drugs, pharmaceutical and medical devices.
- Manufacturing and packaging units of Fertilizers, Pesticides and Seeds
Except for the following, all Other Transport Services must be closed:
- Transportation for essential goods only.
- Fire, law and order and emergency services.
- Operations of Railways, Airports and Seaports for cargo movement, relief and evacuation and their related operational organisations.
- Inter-state movement of goods/ cargo for inland and exports.
- Cross land border movement of essential goods including petroleum products and LPG, food products, medical supplies.
- Sowing related machines’ movement in Intra and inter-state.
- Transit arrangements for foreign nationals
Except for the following, all Hospitality Services are closed:
- Places being used for quarantining people
- Hotels, motels, homestays, and lodges that are accommodating people who are stuck due to lockdown like tourists, sea crew, etc.
Except for the above-mentioned, no other establishment or service can be allowed passes. The Health Department also advises the above-mentioned organizations and employees to take precautions necessary against COVID-19 as mentioned by the World Health Organization(WHO) and the Health Department.
No State/Union Territory can exceed the consolidated list provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs under The Disaster Management Act, 2005. The establishments/ organizations that are not mentioned in the list can only work from home.
Obtaining an Exemption Pass for Businesses Dealing with Essential Goods and Services
Who can issue a pass and where can one avail it?
As per the Ministry of Home Affairs orders for all over India, one can get a pass from the following:
- The process to obtain an exemption pass is easy. As per the instructions given by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the District Magistrate of local jurisdictions has to deploy Executive Magistrates as Incident Commanders. In that local jurisdiction, all other department officers have to follow Incident Commander’s orders. One can get their passes to enable essential movement from the Incident Commander.
- One can also get their passes from the Deputy Commissioner of Police(DCP)’s office where the organization works. The owner can collect for its employees and then can hand over the passes to the drivers of the vehicles.
- No individual requires a pass if he/she is going to buy or avail any essential goods and services subject to the State’s exceptions. Workers involved in fisheries, agricultural and animal husbandry do not require a pass.
One needs to carry their pass along with a valid photo identification proof. The government has now given the work to issue passes to a wide range of authorities and not just the District Collector.
Different states have different ways for issuance of passes, some require pass even for the civilians whereas others do not require a pass and one can simply show their valid ID cards:
- In New Delhi, no person is allowed to enter the city without the pass. As per reports, media persons do not require the passes and can get entry with their ID cards. DCP of the area where the organization is located can issue passes. One can send an email to [email protected] with the details to obtain an e-pass. One can also receive e-pass on WhatsApp by messaging on the following numbers based on your organization’s location along with the details:
- East District: 8447200084 / 8375878007
- North East District: 9540895489 / 8860425666
- Central District: 7428336279 /7428210711
- New Delhi District: 9540675392 / 9873743727
- North District: 8595298706 / 8595354861
- South-East District: 8595246396 / 8595258871
- West District: 9414320064 / 8595252581
- South District: 9599649266 / 9643150027
- South West District: 9971518387 / 9971526953
- North West District: 8595559117 / 8595543375
- Address/place of engagement;
- Details of Essential service/purpose;
- Copy of ID card like Aadhar, Voter Card etc.;
- Vehicle number, only if required.
- In Goa, the State Executive Committee(SEC) decided that the Director of Food and Drug Authority(FDA) can issue passes to Chemists, any person engaged in the supply of medicines, employees of restaurants for home delivery purposes. SEC has also allowed grant of a pass to NGOs, charitable workers and volunteers.
- In Bangalore, Karnataka police had issued 80,000 passes till 31 March 2020 i.e. 70,000 manually and 10,000 e-passes. The city is using MyGate- Karnataka State Police CLEAR pass, an android app for issuance of e-passes where one needs to upload their Aadhaar card and it is issued once approved by the police.
- In Rajasthan, even the individuals also need to have an e-pass in case they want to step out of their houses due to some unavoidable work. One can get it issued by using the RajCop Citizen app. E-commerce delivery personnel do not require a pass and can use their valid ID cards
- Currently, Maharashtra Police are using the system of vehicle e-pass. They are being developed by Adivid Technologies which is a TCS foundation initiative. The motive is to ensure smooth movement of authorized services and goods. One can apply for a pass-through public URL filing, once police approve all the information provided, an e-pass is issued. One can download the pass from the same link and the pass contains the name, vehicle number, validity date and a QR code. In Mumbai, e-commerce delivery employees can receive their pass from the local police station.
- In Haryana, one can also apply for a pass online at https://saralharyana.gov.in/ .
- To obtain a pass in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, one can fill the details on this website- https://web-covid19.chennaipolicecitizenservices.com/user/register.
Need for the pass
For better functioning, it is essential that there are rules which everyone has to abide by. One such rule of having a pass to wander on the streets is extremely important. Without a pass, anyone can claim to be an essential goods or service provider. The issue of having fake ID cards can certainly be a problem for the authorities.
To strictly follow the guidelines and precautions issued by the health department and the World Health Organization(WHO), it is essential to take measures to prevent stacking of people and practice social distancing along with maintaining regular supply of essential goods and services to the citizens.
It is important to understand as much as the principle of social distancing is to be followed, it also needs to be ensured that the operation of producing, processing, supplying is not interrupted.
The main advantage of having a legal exemption pass is that no one can act as a hindrance while one is doing the necessary task for which he/she had obtained the pass in the first place. Recently, a lot of cases of atrocities faced by civilians have been highlighted by the media because of wandering on the roads without an exemption pass.
One can avoid such instances by obtaining an exemption pass from the concerned authorities. The main disadvantage of not having an exemption pass is that the individual, if caught, might be punished under the law. Roaming without the pass and then being caught can cause disruption in the individual’s work and can cause him/her monetary or physical loss. Therefore, it becomes necessary to have an exemption pass as its non-availability can land one in danger.
If one does not obtain a pass at places where it is required, he/she can be made liable under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code. It is necessary to either directly contact the local police or Incident Commander or as per the State’ requirement contact the concerned authorities. One can also obtain e-passes in States where such a facility is available.
In these tough times, let us not burden the already overburdened authorities and frontline workers by breaking the rules. Stay safe, Stay Healthy.
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