Availability of essential items improve consistently amid lockdown, says Centre

New Delhi [India], April 28 (ANI): The Centre on Monday said that the availability of essential items has improved consistently amid the lockdown imposed to combat COVID-19.

"The key indicators related to supply chain show that the availability of essential items has improved consistently. Under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY), daily cooked meals to 1.5 crore people are being served," said Parameswaran Iyer, convener and chairman of Empowered Group 5, which has been mandated with the supply chain of logistics and essential items to combat COVID-19.

Iyer highlighted the specific areas such as the movement of vehicles, labour and truck drivers, where the Group intervened to streamline smooth functioning of the supply chain of essential items during the lockdown.

"The movement of trucks moving food and pharma has increased consistently. It was about 46 per cent on March 30. It has gone up to 76 per cent on April 25. It is increasing rapidly. It is an important indicator of mobility," he added.

Lauding the efforts by the Indian Railways in the fight against COVID-19, Iyer said: "Railways has done a tremendous job. If you look at the movement of rakes, you will see it has gone up from 67 per cent on March 30 to 76 per cent as on April 25. 109 time-tabled parcel trains over 58 routes started by Indian Railways. 2.5 lakh meals are served every day by the IRCTC across all four railway zones."

Iyer informed that Empowered Group 5 has been operating a portal for the supply of excess produce, connecting supplying and buying states who need food products. "79 per cent of total grain markets across the country are operational today," he said.

Iyer said that the percentage of traffic handled by ports has increased from 70 per cent on March 25 to 87 per cent on April 25. 392 lifeline UDAAN flights carrying over 700 MT of essential cargo operated till date.

Iyer further said that the Empowered Group 5 troubleshoots policy and implementation bottlenecks, collaborating with government and external stakeholders and make recommendations accordingly.

"We track key indicators and share best practices. These are some of the various government institutes, which have been working day and night, in order to ensure the availability of essential items to all," he added. (ANI)