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Coronavirus Lockdown: Flipkart, BigBasket, Grofers set to resume deliveries after government assurance

CNBCTV18 logo CNBCTV18 25-03-2020 Santosh Nair

Online retailers Flipkart, BigBasket and Grofers, among others, are set to resume deliveries following assurances from state governments and the central government on the safety of their personnel and smooth transit of their supply trucks.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a nationwide lockdown till April 15 as the country tries to contain the spread of the coronavirus epidemic. And while essential services have been exempt, there are ambiguities on what can be classified as "essential services" beyond the obvious ones such as medical for one.

In pics: COVID-19 outbreak around the world

Earlier, all these online retailers had suspended services following instances of their delivery boys being roughed up by cops and supply trucks being stopped by local authorities.

Soon after, the government reiterated its stand that grocery and food delivery firms should be allowed to operate without any restrictions. This was followed by many states issuing mobility passes online so that the staff at these firms could go about their work. Delhi, Telangana and Karnataka are among the states which have started issuing the passes.

"We have been assured of the safe and smooth passage of our supply chain and delivery executives by local law enforcement authorities and are resuming our grocery & essentials services later today," Flipkart said in a statement.

Also watch: E-passes for vegetable vendors, grocers: Delhi CM (Video by The Times of India)

Replay Video

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said his government has started a new facility of providing E-pass to those engaged in selling, supply, transportation, storage of essential items such as vegetables, milk, groceries, medicines, hospitals etc.

Telangana IT Secretary Jayesh Ranjan said that the government had a meeting with essential service providers and that they would be issuing "thousands of passes", including to online retail firms.

Anant Goel, co-founder and CEO of Milk Basket said his firm had to dump 15000 liters of milk and 10,000 kg of fruits and vegetables on Monday.

"Due to the harassment faced by our employees, we were in complete lockdown. The intend for the lockdown is right but the message that went out to the frontline, the constable on the street is that no should come out. As a result, a blue collar employee is beaten up on the street before they can show an ID," Goel told CNBC-TV18.

And while the authorities have come together to ensure that delivery boys and delivery trucks will not be stopped, Goel said there were other challenges.

"Employees themselves are scared as local panchayat is not letting people move out because of the coronavirus scare. The challenge will be getting people back into work, because of the social pressure," Goel said.

Earlier in the day, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant intervened to ensure that Grofers' warehouse were allowed to operate.

Later, the Gurguram police tweeted that e-commerce Services of companies such as Flipkart, Zomato, Swiggy, Grofers, Dunzo will be allowed to operate.

The Bengaluru Police Commissioner also met up with e-commerce aggregators to allay their concerns.

Prashant Tandon, CEO, 1MG, told CNBC-TV18, that his firm will resume operation tomorrow (Thursday).

"‘It has been day full of engagement with authorities. All states are taking pro-active measures," he said.

‘Since we are seeing high demand, twice the normal load, there is a fair degree of backlog on the system right now," he said.

Thirukumaran Nagarajan, CEO & co-founder, Ninjacart said that his firm had to dump 20 tonnes of vegetables in Chennai today. But he said the situation had improved following the measures taken by the various state governments.

Follow the government's latest travel advice if you are planning a trip outside India or travelling back to India from affected areas. You can also read World Health Organization's advice on basic protective measures against the virus. The Ministry of Health's special helpline is available at +91-11-23978046 and

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