Fifty-four days after a pan-India lockdown was imposed, the Government of India on Sunday lifted restrictions on most public transport, thereby easing the trouble of migrants who have been walking for weeks to reach home.
Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs withdrew most of the curbs on buses, taxis, autos and other means of local transport and left it on states to decide on full resumption of their services.
According to the MHA notification, the following activities have been permitted with restrictions, except in the containment zones.
- Inter-state movement of passenger vehicles and buses with mutual consent of the states/Union territoes involved
- Intra-state movement of passenger vehicles and buses as decided by the states and UTs.
This could mean that migrants who want to go home and are not getting a ticket on ‘Shramik Special’ trains have the option of taking government and private-run buses if the states allow.
The Centre also paved the way for last-mile connectivity for migrants who are reaching railways stations but not finding buses, taxis or autos from the station to reach their final destination.
Unlike the third phase of lockdown, guidelines in the current notification mentions no specific ban on autos or private taxis. It reiterated the April 29 and May 1 orders which asked states to allow movement of stranded migrants, students, tourists and pilgrims.
To facilitate migrants who want to earn a livelihood in the city where they are living at the moment, the Centre also withdrew the 33% cap on workforce.
Previous guidelines had allowed MSMEs and other manufacturing units to start operations in green and orange zones with a 33% strength.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said industry bodies wanted this cap to be increased to 50%.
The Centre has now left it to state governments to decide if they want to put any restrictions on the numbers. The only thing the Centre has specified is following of staggered work shifts, social distancing measures and sanitisation of premises.
Restrictions have also been removed for shops and markets. Only malls have been barred from opening at the moment. Shops selling essential and non-essential goods in markets in non-containment zones can now open shutters. E-commerce websites have also been permitted to deliver non-essential goods in non-containment zones.
However, all these relaxations will be subject to individual state notifications.