Goods movement, which had contracted sharply in March and April, picked up noticeably in May in line with the relaxations given for resuming economic activities as part of India’s phased exit from the lockdown, which began on 25 March.
Electronic permits raised by businesses for transportation of goods, or e-way bills, and electronic toll payments made by trucks ferrying goods across states jumped in May, official data showed.
This indicates that the greater relaxations in June, except in containment zones, could further help the manufacturing industry, which is pinning hopes on a recovery in consumption.
E-way bill generation rose 196% in May to 25.5 million from 8.6 million in April when the lockdown imposed to check the spread of coronavirus was more stringent, showed data from Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), the company that processes GST.
India first eased the restrictions on economic activities on 4 May when it extended the lockdown a third time. Essential activities, including production of pharmaceuticals, operation of export units, farm activities, and limited movement were allowed even in areas with a high incidence of coronavirus infections, classified as red zones, while more freedom was given to other areas, including for movement of taxis subject to conditions.
The fourth phase that started on 18 May further opened up the economy. The number of e-way bills raised by businesses in May is a notch below the half-way mark of the 57 million e-way bills raised in February.
Electronic toll collection in highways via FASTag surged to ₹1,142 crore in May, recovering from the ₹248 crore reported in April. The May collection is still below the ₹1,421 crore of March, data released by National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI) showed. At present, more than two-thirds of toll revenue is collected through via FASTag.
In terms of volume, 55.17 transactions were recorded in May, which is a five-fold jump compared with the volume recorded in April. There were 84.55 million transactions in March.
There has been a gradual increase in the number of trucks plying on highways, with the easing of restrictions, said All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) secretary general Naveen Kumar Gupta. “At the moment, 30-35% of the trucks are back on the highways,” Gupta said.
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