A day after several e-commerce companies alleged they faced harassment by police personnel and their delivery executives were stopped while at work, the Delhi Police Wednesday held a meeting with representatives of several such companies and assured them that their delivery staff would be allowed to travel without hassles within the capital, and would be issued curfew passes to cross state borders.
The move comes a day after major confusion was seen on the streets, with online retailers such as Grofers, FreshToHome and 1mg telling The Indian Express that their staff were harassed and their warehouses sealed.
In Gurgaon, Commissioner of Police Mohammad Akil issued orders to senior officers to ensure 12 “online delivery services” are “allowed to operate” during the lockdown.
“Zomato, Flipkart, Amazon, Bluedart, Wow Express, Swiggy, Grofers, BigBasket, MilkBasket, Dunzo, Big Bazaar, IFFCO Tokio Good shall be allowed to operate,” states the order.
In the meeting with senior Delhi Police personnel, the companies flagged several problems. Among those in the meeting were representatives of Grofers, BigBasket, Snapdeal, Flipkart and Zomato.
Afterwards, Delhi Police spokesperson Mandeep Singh Randhawa said: “As we all know, section 144 has been imposed in Delhi. The Delhi Police has been and will continue to ensure that movement of essential supplies is not hindered. E-commerce portals play a huge role; we held a meeting with them to discuss problems they are facing. We are issuing curfew passes and have assured them that police personnel will cooperate with their delivery partners.”
“We have created a platform, a WhatsApp group, where they can share with us the difficulties and we can address their issues on an urgent basis,” he said. “We also assured them that police personnel will help reopen their warehouses.”
One of the problems flagged by the companies was delivery executives being stopped by security guards at several societies and gated colonies.
The meeting lasted an hour, and the firms also told police how high standards of hygiene were being maintained for all employees and delivery executives. Delhi Police asked them to ensure their employees carry ID cards and curfew passes.
A DCP-rank officer said, “We have sensitised police personnel about letting delivery staff go about their work. The logic was explained — if they won’t let them work, more people will get out of their homes to buy stuff. We distributed some pamphlets regarding this too. We also got in touch with several resident welfare associations, asking them to allow delivery persons to drop essential items at their colonies.”
A day after online grocer BigBasket suspended operations, cancelled deliveries and stopped taking new orders, the company’s spokesperson told The Indian Express that they faced “an unprecedented increase in demand, which was well beyond what they had planned for”. “What we are trying to do is to only accept as many orders as we are able to service…,” they said.
While early Wednesday, e-commerce company Flipkart announced in a blog post that it has suspended operations, Group CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy later in the evening said they will resume grocery and essentials service. “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 and essentials services later today.”
Customers who were able to make orders on Grofers until Tuesday found the website and mobile app down Wednesday. But, after a brief halt, the company announced in the evening that they have resumed their operations and are taking orders in Delhi and Gurugram.
In the midst of some online delivery services suspending operations, supermarket chain Big Bazaar launched a doorstep delivery service in various cities. Soon after, the company issued a statement Wednesday: “In light of the recent announcement, we are receiving an unprecedented number of requests for doorstep delivery. There could be delay due to the restrictions on movements”.
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