NEW DELHI: After a sharp contraction in March and April, movement of goods picked up noticeably in May in line with the phase-wise easing of the lockdown to resume economic activities. Official data showed that electronic permits raised by businesses for transportation of goods, or e-way bills, and toll payments made by trucks carrying such items across states surged last month.
The partial recovery indicates that with greater relaxations in June, barring containment zones, could further help the manufacturing industry, which hopes rapid recovery in consumption.
Data from GSTN, the company that processes Goods and Services Tax (GST), showed that e-way bill generation jumped a 196% in May to 2.55 crores from 86 lakh bills generated in April, when the nationwide lockdown was more stringent.
India eased some restrictions on business activities from 4 May, which marked the start of the third phase of the lockdown. Essential activities including production of pharma products, operation of export units, farm activities and limited movement were allowed even in areas of high coronavirus infections, classified as red zones, while more freedom was given to other areas including movement of taxis, subject to conditions.
The fourth phase that started on 18 May eased more curbs. The number of e-way bills raised by businesses in May is a notch below the half way mark of the 5.7 crore e-way bills raised in the pre-lockdown month of February.
India went under a lockdown on 25 March, in which 4 crore e-way bills were generated, about 29% less than what was reported in February.
Electronic toll collection in highways via FASTag surged to ₹1,142 crore in May, recovering from ₹248 crore reported in April. May collection is still below the March’s number, data released by National Payments Corp of India (NPCI) showed.
Currently, more than two-thirds of toll revenue is collected through FASTag. In terms of volume, 55.17 transactions were recorded in May, a five-fold jump from the previous month. There were 84.55 million transactions in March.
India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) secretary general Naveen Kumar Gupta said with easing of restrictions, there has been a gradual increase in the number of trucks playing on highways. “At the moment, 30-35% of the trucks are back on the highways,” Gupta told Mint, suggesting the potential for further recovery.
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