Centre asks states not to stop interstate buses during night curfew

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The central government has objected to instances of states restricting movement of goods and passenger transport on national and state highways during the curfew hours of 9 pm to 5 am designated as part of measures to contain the coronavirus epidemic through Unlock 1 guidelines released on May 30, 2020.

A fresh notification issued by the home secretary on Friday further clarifies the order to say that overnight transport services carrying people and goods to their destinations should not be hindered.

“The restriction doesn’t apply to instances of loading/unloading of goods (as part of supply chain and logistics); buses carrying persons and trucks and goods carriers plying on state and national highways; or persons travelling to their destinations after embarking from buses, trains and flights,” the order says.

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The need for the clarification was felt after instances of enforcement agencies stopping all kinds of movements on roads during the night curfew were reported to the central government, says the order.

The order says the curfew between 9 pm and 5 am was meant to prevent congregation of people and to ensure social distancing but was not meant to disrupt essential services and movement of people in the above stated categories.

“Accordingly, states/UTs are advised to not to prevent such movement as mentioned above,” says the order.

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This is not the first time that the central government had to issue notification requesting states to not prevent essential transport. Earlier an intervention had to be made after some bordering states like West Bengal were reported to be preventing transfer of goods to neighbouring countries like Bangladesh. The centre had then reminded the states about the obligation to honour international agreements for trade and commerce.

The notification also comes at a time when enforcement of separate rules for interstate travel has created chaos and inconvenience to people, as evidenced recently in the national capital region, when enforcement of conflicting protocols by the states of Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh made interstate travel difficult.

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