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India coronavirus lockdown rules: Agriculture, MNREGA, e-commerce get exemption

India coronavirus lockdown: The government today announced opening of industries operating in rural areas including food processing industries; brick kilns; and works under MGNREGA in areas outside of “containment zones”

Written by Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: April 16, 2020 12:47:00 am
India coronavirus lockdown: Agriculture, MNREGA works exempted; masks now mandatory in public India coronavirus lockdown: A deserted chicken and egg market in Gazipur, on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. (Express Photo: Abhinav Saha)

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that “select necessary activities” will be allowed to be opened up from April 20, 2020, the Government on Wednesday issued revised guidelines for COVID-19 lockdown 2.0, permitting the opening of industries operating in rural areas including food processing industries; brick kilns; and works under Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in areas outside of “containment zones” as demarcated by States, Union Territories or District Administrations.

In an order, the Ministry of Home Affairs said, “Whereas, to mitigate hardship to the public, select additional activities will be allowed, which will come into effect from 20th April, 2020. However, these additional activities will be operationalized by States/Union Territories (UTs)/ District Administrations based on strict compliance to the existing guidelines on lockdown measures. Before operating these relaxations, States/UT/District Administrations shall ensure that all preparatory arrangements with regard to social distancing in offices, workplaces, factories and establishment, as also other sectoral requirements are in place.” (Here’s what’s allowed and what’s not)

However, these relaxations will not apply in containment zones, as demarcated by States/UTs/District Administrations, said the order.

To give an impetus to the rural economy, the Center has allowed opening of industries operating in rural areas including food processing industries; and brick kilns, which are located outside of limits of municipal corporations and municipalities, during the lockdown which has been extended till May 3, 2020.

“MGNREGA works are allowed with strict implementation of social distancing and face mask,” said the order adding that priority will be given under MNGREGA to irrigation and water conservation works.

Reiterating the relaxations announced for farmers earlier, the MHA order said that all agricultural and horticultural activities will remain fully functional.

According to the order, operations of tea, coffee, and rubber plantations, “with maximum of 50 % workers”; processing, packaging, sale and marketing of tea, coffee, rubber and cashew, “with maximum of 50 % workers” will be allowed to function.

It further said that operation animal husbandry farms including poultry farms and hatcheries and livestock farming activities including operation of animal shelter homes and Guashalas will also be allowed to function.

READ | Government offices to reopen with senior staff from April 20

According to the MHA order, offices of the State/Union Territories Governments, their autonomous bodies and local governments will also remain open.

While the Police, home guards, civil defence, fire and emergency services, disaster management, prisons and municipal services will function without any restrictions, all other Departments of State/UT Governments will work with restricted staff.

“Group ‘A’ and ‘B’ officers may attend as required. Group ‘C’ and levels below that may attend upto 33% of strength, as per requirement to ensure social distancing,” said the order.

READ | Highway dhabhas, truck repair shops to be allowed from April 20: MHA

The order further said that resident commissioner of States/UTs in New Delhi, will be allow to open “only to the extent of coordinating COVID-19 related activities and internal kitchen operations.”

Forest offices staff and workers required to operate and maintain zoo, nurseries, wildlife, fire-fighting in forests, watering plantations, patrolling and their necessary transport movement will also be allowed from April 20 during the extended lockdown period.

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