The Bengaluru police has issued around 10,000 special passes electronically, in addition to the nearly 70,000 issued manually, to allow essential services providers to smoothly operate amid the ongoing lockdown, even as several cities are still trying to get their systems in place.
Law enforcement authorities in Bengaluru as well as Pune, the first city to issue e-passes in the country, were the among the fastest to act and ensure essential services were restored, according to large e-commerce and online delivery firms.
The permits are being issued to facilitate the movement of delivery personnel and other essential service providers after the three-week nationwide lockdown was announced, following complaints by many companies of not being allowed to operate by the police.
The police in Bengaluru, which has more than 10 million residents, had to act fast to restore delivery and other services or risk people pouring out on the streets.
“It is an extraordinary situation where physical verification is an impossible task and would negate the very idea of the lockdown and social distancing," said Pratap Reddy, additional director general of police, communications, logistics, and modernization, of Karnataka.
Several people showed up at their respective zonal deputy commissioner’s office in the first two days after the pass system was announced last week, adding to risks of spreading the virus.
MyGate, a security management app for gated communities, was approached for help with the technology to electronically issue passes. “MyGate is the facilitator for this platform, which was developed over four days by employees of the company," said Shreyans Daga, co-founder and chief technical officer of the company.
To get passes, organizations will have to enter details about themselves, following which they will get a phone and email OTP after which reasons for travel and pass requirements have to be mentioned.
The information goes directly to the jurisdictional police who will evaluate the request. Once approved, an ePass with a QR code is sent. This can be scanned by a simple QR scanner used by the police to verify if the pass is authentic. Every pass holder must also carry valid government identification.
The police have encouraged companies to request for passes in bulk through their official emails and with their respective organization’s registration.
A bulk of the passes issued so far have been to delivery personnel of online aggregators of food and medicine, and other e-commerce platforms who have been listed under essential services providers by Bengaluru and other major metropolitan city police.
Amazon India, which recently resumed operations after nearly a week of disruption in its services, started in Bengaluru and Pune, as they got the permits promptly in both the cities, said a person familiar with the development who did not wish to be named. In some cases, the police would seek additional information from the companies on the total number of staff who would have to operate during the lockdown.
The police, in some cases, are fixing an upper limit as well. After this, they are given a login ID from where they can avail the passes. Details of at least two main points of contact in the company have to be shared with the police.
“If it is a BPO, then the officer applies his mind, discusses and talks to them and arrives at a number that is essential to run critical systems," Reddy said, listing one of the few exceptions.
Bengaluru police commissioner Bhaskar Rao has warned that those misusing the passes will face punishment and it would be the company’s responsibility to ensure this does not happen. “MyGate will be the technical partner and continue to provide support to ensure the app functions smoothly," Daga said.