Delivery of Milk And Other Essential Goods by E-Commerce Giants, Supply Chain Hit Hurdles Amid Lockdown in India; Authorities Stay on Toes to Ensure Availability of Daily Commodities

Sarmistha Neogy

The moment Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown on Tuesday to contain the spread of coronavirus, citizens rushed to their nearby stores to stock up on essentials, causing long queues where social distancing was not even an option. The government asserted that there was no reason to panic because essential goods will be available and e-commerce companies will continue to deliver them. However, the ground situation looks different as many of these e-commerce companies have either cancelled the existing orders or have suspended operations for the time being. Panic Buying Seen in Cities Across India After PM Narendra Modi's Total Lockdown Announcement.

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Amazon, Grofers, Milk Basket and Big Basket have all been showing products out of stock or undeliverable, and constant unavailability of delivery slots ever since the Janata Curfew. The situation has turned critical today, as Big Basket, Grofers and others displayed the message - "We Will Be Back Soon". Amazon has suspended the delivery of everything other than essential, but their AmazonNow feature also showed no slots of delivery open. For orders already placed, customers have received the message-"Your order xxx might be delayed due to the regional regulations." Coronavirus Impact on E-Commerce Companies: Amazon, Flipkart & Others Suspend Pick-Ups From Vendors As India Goes Under Lockdown.

Here's what Big Basket is Saying:

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A day after the Government of India imposed a 21-days nationwide lockdown, Big Basket is not functioning. The message on the site reads - "Dear customer, We are not operational today due to restrictions imposed by local authorities on the movement of goods. We are working with the relevant authorities to enable delivery as soon as possible."

Read D-Mart's notice:

Dmart mentions that all delivery slots are taken for now. “Our slots are fully booked. Dear Customer, our slots are fully booked. We have adequate stocks but not enough staff to serve the high demand. Please bear with us as we work hard to add more slots. Kindly check back in a couple of days."

State Government & Local Authorities Trying to Help People And Lessen Panic:

In Gurugram, Milk Basket suspended its operations and this created panic. People complained on Twitter to DC Gurugram, who assured that they were working to streamline the process of wholesale, bulk retailers, dairy to reduce the inconvenience being caused.

Here is what DC Gurugram tweeted:

Check Mulund MLA Mihir Kotecha's tweet:

In a verified WhatsApp forward going viral, Mihir Kotecha informed people in the area that the local authorities were in the process of setting up vegetable stalls in societies with 100 or more flats so that people didn't have to go out in the market. On Tuesday, he further urged people to not panic and stay at home.

Harassment of Delivery Executives, Doctors, Airline Executives

In several housing societies across the country, managements have not only barred the entry of outsiders, including maids, paper delivery boys, home delivery guys but are also the entry of people working in the essential sectors. In fact, earlier this week, a flight attendant alleged that many crew members were being discriminated against by the housing society members when they returned from servicing the international sectors. Airline Staff in India Requests People Not to Spread Rumours About COVID-19, Says She Was Harassed by Residents of Her Society; Watch Video.

Delhi Chief Minister appealed to the people to help each other in these difficult times. He further mentioned that people should not discriminate against and harass professionals such as doctors, nurses, pilots and air hostesses who are extending help in this fight against the virus. Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday said that he was "deeply anguished" over reports of discrimination against doctors treating coronavirus patients.

On Twitter, people have shared on how delivery agents of e-commerce companies are being harassed by police on the roads in the middle of the lockdown. In a recent tweet on ANI, Delhi Police PRO MS Randhawa said, "I had a meeting with e-commerce website representatives, they shared the problems faced by them in the movement of essential goods. We have issued passes to them and assured that their delivery agents will be helped by the police."

Truckers stranded across India

Trucks, even the ones carrying essential goods or raw material for making essential goods, were reportedly not being allowed to move following the government orders to seal the borders and check posts. According to an article on Business Standard, after the government order, truckers have been stranded at the same place without food and water.

Keeping this in mind and after receiving several complains on Twitter and on other platforms, today, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIT) issued instructions to state authorities to "not obstruct and call for the closure of food processing units". Another point mentioned in the order clearly states that transport vehicles carrying raw materials to and from the food processing units should be given permission.

With a flurry of issues, panic has gripped people as they struggle to get delivery of milk. Milk giants like Mother Dairy and Amul assured people that there would be regular availability of milk and milk products during the 21 days lockdown across India.

Here's what Amul MD RS Sodhi had to say on this occasion: 

However, authorities and the government have assured that they were with the people in this critical moment and would ensure that everything was streamlined in the coming days, asking people to stay at home in this fight against coronavirus. Till then, stay safe and practise social distancing.