Indian Railways continues to deliver essential commodities through its freight services during the nationwide lock down to strengthen Government’s efforts in managing the challenges and adverse impact of COVID19 in the country. The Union Government has been focusing special attention to ensure that the supply chains of essential goods are maintained, besides ensuring that farm produce is transported without hindrance within the state and inter-state.
Since 23rd March 2020 Railways has transported approx. 6.75 lakh wagons of commodities including about 4.50 lakh wagons of essential commodities like food grains, salt, sugar, edible oil, coal and petroleum products. During the week 2nd April to 8th April 2020, Railways delivered total 258503 wagons of commodities out of which 155512 wagons contained essential items. This includes 21247 wagons of food grains, 11336 wagons of fertilizer, 124759 wagons of coal and 7665 wagons of petroleum products.
It may be recalled that the Union Government has granted a slew of exemptions and relaxations for Agriculture and Allied sectors with respect to the 21-day lockdown over the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak so as to ensure that the farmers do not suffer from any adverse fall out. Meanwhile, the Department of Fertilizers of Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers is making all efforts to ensure an adequate supply of fertilizers for the upcoming Kharif season. The Department of Fertilizers is closely monitoring the production, movement & availability of fertilizers and is in regular touch with State Governments & Ministry of Railways on the same.
Amidst the COVID-19 lockdown Railways is also working closely with the Food Corporation of India and has moved more than 800 rakes carrying over 20 Lakh MT food grains across the country since 24th March. FCI is able to meet the increasing demand of food grains by gearing up the pace of supply of wheat and rice throughout the country mostly by Rail.
Railways has also introduced 109 time-table parcel trains to supply essential commodities including perishable horticulture produce, seeds, milk and dairy products. Approximately, 59 routes (109 trains) for parcel special trains have been notified since the beginning of the lockdown. With this, almost all the important cities of India will get connected for transportation of essential and perishable goods at a fast speed. These services are expected to be further scaled up as per requirement.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), with its orders under the Disaster Management Act, has allowed manufacture/production, transport and other related supply-chain activities in respect of essential goods like foodstuff, medicines and medical equipment.