The Internet And Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has reached out to the Indian government, seeking a “level playing field” for ecommerce companies in red zones.
This comes after the ministry of home affairs (MHA) allowed brick-and-mortar stores to sell all items, but ecommerce services are still limited to essential items like food, groceries and other items of daily need.
IAMAI believes that the order has put ecommerce companies at a “disadvantaged position”. Therefore, the association has requested the government to resume the delivery of kitchenware essentials, small electrical appliances, summer products like coolers, spare of all machines, certain types of clothing, children’s toys, personal care, and hygiene items.
The list also includes education essentials like books, stationery, and work-from-home essentials like laptops, routers, chargers, mobiles. Meanwhile, the industry body, whose members include Flipkart and Amazon Seller Service, is also seeking permission for delivery of priority products at the periphery of containment zones or housing clusters within larger containment zones.
The association believes that the opening of “standalone stops” has created two additional operational issues harming public health. These include overcrowding at stores and increasing the chances of exposure to the virus.
Last month, the MHA had issued an order to resume all ecommerce operations whether delivery of essentials or non-essentials from April 20, second phase of lockdown. However, the order was scrapped a day before the implementation, citing two reasons. First, it was unfair on brick-and-mortar stores that had to wait for the lockdown to end before resuming their operations.
Secondly, the list proposed by the ecommerce entities was “extensive”, which defeated the purpose of the lockdown in the first place. A few days later, the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) had asked the ecommerce companies to resubmit a list of limited items that can be considered as essentials.
The department had assured that the list will be conveyed to the MHA for the final nod. However, in the third phase of lockdown, the government decided to bifurcate the districts into three zones — red, orange and green — depending on severity and open the economy in phases.
Red zones are regions with a high number of cases, orange zones represent moderate regions, whereas green zones are regions with no cases. Meanwhile, the ecommerce companies have been allowed to resume all operations in orange and green zones.