Gurugram, Haryana, India | 25th March 2020: India has made the much needed move for a country wide lockdown to break further spread of COVID-19. As PM Modi announced supply of food, medicine and essential goods will continue, some more clarity in what enlists essential goods is needed, to ensure local enforcement bodies and suppliers can work together and ensure the bare necessities can reach people in need.
With the country under 21 days lockdown only essential goods can be supplied. Some major commodities covered under the Essential Commodity Act include food items like edible oil and seeds, vanaspati, pulses, rice, sugarcane and its products; petroleum and petroleum products; jute and textile; seeds of fruits and vegetables; drugs and fertilizers. The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 was enacted to ensure the easy availability of essential commodities to consumers while also to protect them from exploitation by unscrupulous traders.
Sanitary napkins and several other hygiene products are not clearly listed under essential goods, which is leading to supply issues across the countries. Several shops are out of stock, however, warehouses and suppliers of these goods cannot function as local authorities are not recognising these as “essential goods”.
While Telangana and Karnataka Governments have come forward today clearly listing these products as essential goods to help speed up uninterrupted supply during this lockdown, a similar move at central level, will help smooth up operations, and also supply of these goods safely by e-commerce platforms.
Amazon, Big Basket and several others are not being able to pick up sanitary napkins due to lack of this clarity, despite a realisation that these are essential for women.
Amar Tulsiyan Founder of Shudh Plus Hygiene Products and manufacturer of Niine Sanitary Napkin said while individual state governments are coming forward to provide clarification on essential goods, efforts can be speeded up if centrally, Ministry of Consumer Affairs or Health or even PMO office can provide a centralised clarification or extended list of essential items in view of 21 days lockdown, clearly listing sanitary napkins, soaps and other hygiene products as essential goods, to help ensure these can continue to reach people in need.
Sanitary Napkins are sold through e-commerce platforms, chemists and grocery outlets which are functioning for milk, food and medicine supply. Sanitary napkins which are a critical hygiene need for all girls and women, and continue to be made available during this lockdown period, if listed under essential commodities and communication provided to enforcement authorities. This will also help us keep women safe from unwanted infections while they stay home under lockdown.