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15,000 Litres of Milk, 10,000kg Fruits & Vegetables: The Cost of Disruptions Due to Coronavirus Lockdown

New Delhi: The three-week-long nationwide lockdown, which has been enforced to curb the further spread of novel coronavirus, has turned out to be a testing period not only for the citizens of the country but also for the e-commerce service companies.

Though the Centre has asked states to allow e-commerce services to operate during the 21-day lockdown period, there are several disruptions being faced by the companies, especially the startups, while providing services to customers like door-step delivery.

Such a disruption has led to the wastage of perishable items, with startups like MilkBasket being forced to dump 15,000 litres of milk and 10,000 kg of fruits and vegetables, CNBC-TV18 News reports.

Speaking on the same, Anant Goel, co-founder and CEO, Milkbasket said, “Due to the harassment faced by our employees, we were in complete lockdown. While the intent for the lockdown is right but the message that went out to the frontline, the constable on the street is that no one should come out. As a result, blue collar employees and our delivery staff were beaten up on the street before they could even show their ID.”

Echoing the similar concern, Thirukumaran Nagarajan, CEO and Co-founder of Ninjacart, a startup that connects farmers with kirana stores, said, “We had to dump 20,000 kgs of vegetables in Chennai. We have not closed our operations, but will have to in two or three cities as we are still waiting for clear directives to follow.”

In the time of digitalisation, when in crisis, people often depends on e-commerce services to fulfil basic needs such as vegetables, fruits, baby products, medicines, etc. But such reports may send waves of panic to customers depending on online services.

Expressing concern over non-availability of workers, who are now scared to return to job due to the objection by police, housing societies, landlords, PG owners and local panchayat, Goel said, “Employees themselves are scared to come out to work as local panchayat are not letting people move out before the coronavirus scare. The bigger challenge now will be to get people back into work because of the social pressure.”

But, now there is some rays of hope as the central government has taken cognisance into the matter and is working with states to address challenges, Goyal stated.

“States have been asked to allow home delivery personnel with identity cards to deliver food and pharmaceutical products,” said DPIIT secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra.

Addressing the issues, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant told CNBC-TV18 that he personally intervened to make sure Grofers’ operations were up and running and ensured that their services resumed.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also announced yesterday that curfew e-pass will be issued to ensure disruption-free workflow of essential services.

Taking to Twitter, Gurgaon and Noida Police assured smooth movement on streets for those who fall under essential services category. In Bengaluru, police commissioner is set to meet all related stakeholders.

Despite several requests and measures being taken by both central and state governments, people are still panic-buying.

Minutes after the announcement of 21-day nationwide lockdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, grocery store shelves were wiped out.

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Source: News18