The Union Home Secretary wrote to the governments of all states and union territories on Saturday, reminding them that under central guidelines for "Unlock3", or the third phase of easing of the coronavirus lockdown, there were no restrictions on either inter- or intra-state movement of people or goods.
The letter notes that there are reports of such restrictions being imposed by district-level officials in a number of states. The letter also notes that these restrictions were adversely impacting supply chains and thereby disrupting economic activity and employment.
Referring to paragraph 5 of the guidelines, Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla said no separate permission or e-permit was required for movement of persons or goods.
Mr Bhalla, in his letter, also cautioned state governments that the continued imposition of such restrictions would be viewed as violation of Union Home Ministry guidelines issued under relevant provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
He also urged all states and UTs to remove movement restrictions, if any, and ensure that Home Ministry guidelines are followed.
Cross-border movement of people and goods had been stopped during the first two months of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. They were resumed, gradually, first in May as part of Lockdown5 guidelines, with the centre allowing movement within and between states.
The resumption of cross-border movement initially caused much chaos as people and commercial operators were left unsure over the rules, permission (if any) that was required and quarantine or self-isolation measures at the destination.
Last month, while announcing "Unlock3" guidelines, the centre repeated this point, saying there was "no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of people and goods" and that "no separate permission, approval, e-permit will be required for such movement".
India has reported over 29.75 lakh COVID-19 cases so far, of which more than 56,000 are deaths linked to the virus and nearly 7 lakh are active cases. Over 69,000 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours, government data said this morning.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a national lockdown in March to control the spread of the virus. The lockdown, seen by many as one of the strictest in the world, went through five phases before restrictions began to be eased.
There have been three "Unlock" phases since, with the current one set to end on August 31.
The easing of the restrictions (the degree to which many will be eased has been left to the discretion of local governments) came amid repeated warnings over the condition of the Indian economy, which stuttered alarmingly during the lockdown.