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COVID-19: Delivery from online grocery platforms comes to halt

Press Trust of India  |  Kolkata 

Leading online grocery platforms have temporarily suspended their services in and around the city, following a sudden surge in demand amid the nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, officials said on Wednesday.

They alleged that delivery executives were stopped by local authorities to perform their duties even though essential services were kept out of the purview of the 21-day lockdown.

In a notice to its customers, BigBasket said, "We are not operational due to restrictions imposed by local authorities on the movement of goods in spite of clear guidelines provided by central authorities to enable essential services. We are working with the relevant authorities to be back soon."

The online platform also said it is "currently experiencing unprecedented demand".

Walmart-owned Flipkart also said it was suspending its operations temporarily as India entered into the lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

Another online grocery portal Grofers said, "We will be back shortly".

"Delivery executives have been stopped at check points and several warehouses remained closed as per instructions by the local authorities," Grofers head customers experience Sunnet Gupta said.

A home-delivery grocer, kolkatabazar, also flagged concern about its inability to deliver essential items.

Police sources said they have to make sure that people remain indoors as part of social distancing guidelines.

Customers also complained that they could not be able to place orders on the Spencers' online platform.

A senior official of Spencer's did not respond to queries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Tuesday announced a complete lockdown across the country for 21 days, asserting that social distancing is the only way out for the country in its decisive battle against the coronavirus.

Union Health Ministry said the number of COVID-19 cases in the country soared to 606 and the death toll rose to 10.

However, the Centre on Wednesday asked state governments to resolve immediately the problems being faced by the e-commerce sector in delivering essential goods.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said people engaged by online platforms for delivery of food items, vegetable vendors and those in other essential services should not be stopped by police during the lockdown.

Amazon India had on Tuesday said it has temporarily stopped taking orders and disabled shipment of low-priority products as it focuses on delivery of essential items like household staples, hygiene and other high-priority products.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, March 25 2020. 21:16 IST