According to industry estimates, around 2.5 crore people in the country may be having a non-functional or damaged phones leading to tough time for them in accessing essential services during the ongoing lockdown.
Two apex industry bodies ICEA and CAIT have jointly written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, seeking permission for sale of mobile phones by pleading that such handsets are pivotal for communications during the lockdown.
The India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) — whose members include Apple, Foxconn, Wistron, Flextronics, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo, Lava, among others — in its earlier communications to government authorities had said that mobile phones are at the heart of this ecosystem and their non-availability can be life threatening.
In a joint letter to Shah on April 22, the industry bodies mentioned that a very large number of citizens don’t have access to basic mobile phones even during these extraordinary circumstances.
“Therefore, there is an urgent requirement and desperation amongst citizens to at least have access to basic feature phones or entry-level smart phones which can cater to their varied needs relating to communication, children education, entertainment, medical and business requirements,” the letter said.
According to industry estimates, around 2.5 crore people in the country may be having a non-functional or damaged phones leading to tough time for them in accessing essential services during the ongoing lockdown which has entered into 5th week.
“In addition to this, a large number of citizens are currently suffering on account of faulty mobile devices which require urgent repairing and replacement,” the letter said.
In a separate letter to Home Scretary Ajay Bhalla, the ICEA has said that more than 10 crore senior citizens at the bottom of pyramid do not have access to even feature phones and are being denied access.
The government has allowed opening of standalone of shops but not shops in the malls or shopping complex that house most of the mobile devices retailers.
The Ministry of Electronics and IT has also recommended inclusion of mobile devices, personal computers and related accessories in list of essential goods to support work from home and access other essential services.
The Home Ministry had earlier allowed e-commerce companies to sell non-essential items during the second leg of the coronavirus lockdown but after protest from various sections including traders’ body the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), the decision was withdrawn.
The joint letter by the ICEA and CAIT said that shops providing retail sales and services of mobile devices number only 2.5 lakhs, which is just a small subset of the 10-15 lakh telecom services establishments spread across the country which provide telecom services which include sale of recharge, SIM card, etc.
“ICEA and CAIT jointly recommend allowing the sale and service of mobile devices and its accessories without any further delay. The operationalisation of these shops shall be done in strict compliance to the defined SOPs (standard operating procedures) and preventive measures notified by the government from time to time,” the letter said.