The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) clarified on Sunday that supply of non-essential goods by e-commerce companies will remain prohibited during the lockdown.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued an order excluding the non-essential items from the cart of e-commerce companies. The order said the following clause – “E-commerce companies. Vehicles used by e-commerce operators will be allowed to ply with necessary permissions” – is excluded from the guidelines.
The 15 April order had said e-commerce platforms were allowed to sell such items from 20 April.
The government had earlier allowed the sale of mobile phones, refrigerators, clothes, television sets and laptops through e-commerce platforms. However, the decision had invited criticism from the Confederation of Indian Traders (CAIT) which called it ‘unjust’.
“More than 40 lakh traders are supplying essential goods across India ever since the lockdown came into effect. Sidelining and ignoring them, the e-commerce companies have been allowed to deliver non-essential goods from April 20 onwards. It is a one-sided and unjust decision and against the larger interest of the traders and will create an imbalance in the country. Today, we have written a letter to PM Modi, asking him to intervene in the matter and reconsider the decision,” Secretary-General of the CAIT Praveen Khandelwal told ANI.
Commerce and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted that he was grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the clarification that “e-commerce companies can only supply essential goods during the lockdown,” adding “this will create a level playing field for small retailers.”
On Sunday, the MHA wrote a letter to the States to exclude e-commerce category from the revised guidelines.