Nepal Covid-19 Lockdown Update: Government has decided to ease the production and transportation of food supplies and essential commodities amidst lockdown
After ten days of the nationwide strict lockdown, the high-level coordination committee led by Deputy Prime Minister Ishwor Pokhael, has decided to allow the production and distribution of food and other essential commodities on 2nd April, Thursday. The committee has made decided as follows:
- The factories will be allowed to produce essential goods, however adopting strict health standards and providing accommodation to the laborers.
- Other industries can resume their production by keeping residential workers if they could get permission from province administration.
- The government has also asked people from rural areas to give continuity to the cultivation and other agricultural works. Only locals are to do such work and they are not allowed to hire any laborers from outside.
- Moreover, the government also allowed mega projects like Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower and Melamchi Drinking Water Project. However, the workers from outside are not allowed to enter but only the workers who are already in there should be engaged and that too adopting all safety measures.
The government has taken such measures to ease the distribution of the essential goods. So here comes the question, what are the essential goods? The Essential Commodities Control (Authorization) Act, 2017 (1961) has given definition of the essential goods in section 2. It provides that the essential commodity means any of the following commodities:
- Paddy, rice, maize, wheat, millet, barley and their flour, maida or other identical food items,
- Rahar (yellow lentil), mugi, mas (black lentil), gram, pea, soybean and flour made therefrom and other identical food items,
- Linseed, mustard seed, sarsiyumi (yellow mustard seed) sesame seed and other oilseed and all kinds of oil,
- Milk or any other food items made from milk,
- Sugarcane, molasses, sugar or other identical substances,
- Cotton or woolen clothing’s, cotton and wool,
- Raw jute and goods prepared out of it,
- Kerosene, petrol, diesel and all types of lubricant,
- Iron and goods made from the iron,
- Cement, bricks, zinc plate etc. which are essential for the construction works,
- Means of transportation and tire, tube and parts essential for such means of transportation,
- Any other goods or commodities as so prescribed by the Government of Nepal from time to time, by a notified order. Notified order means and order published in Nepal Gazette.
We wholeheartedly welcome such a decision of the government as it is much required to meet the demand of such essential goods amid the lockdown. Having said that, the government has failed to explicitly mention the minimum safety mechanisms that are to be observed and their availability. Along with these provisions the government should also specify the monitoring provision of their adequate safety measures as it is most important to work in this scenario. On the other hand, the government might need to take measures regarding the medical insurance of the workers of such industries to encourage them as they would be risking their as well as their family’s, society’s health. Furthermore, the government should also pay attention towards the feasibility and capacity of providing accommodation to the workers.
The government could have listed the most essential goods whose production and distribution is must to survive through this lockdown and crisis instead of vaguely stating essential goods as all the essential goods as given in law are not equally important at this point of time.