The Central government on Friday gave exemptions to a few more areas from the purview of the ongoing lockdown including construction activities in rural areas, water supply, sanitation works and functioning of non-banking financial institutions and cooperative credit societies across India.
In a communication to all states and Union Territories, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla also said collection, harvesting and processing of minor forest produce, non-timber forest produce by Scheduled Tribes and other forest dwellers in forest areas were also allowed to be carried out during the lockdown which will last till May 3.
Construction activities in rural areas include water supply and sanitation, laying and erection of power transmission lines and laying of telecom optical fibre and cable along with related activities will be allowed, Bhalla said in his communication. Non-banking financial institutions, including housing finance companies, and microfinance institutions with bare minimum staff and cooperative credit societies are exempted from the lockdown across India.
Bamboo, coconut, Arecanut, cocoa, spices plantation and their harvesting, processing, packaging, sale and marketing are also allowed to be carried out during the lockdown. On Wednesday, the Home Ministry had announced a series of exemptions given to different people and services during the lockdown.
These activities will be allowed from 20th April in non-containment zones. A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the extension of lockdown till May 3, the MHA issued detailed guidelines for the extended lockdown and introduced new points like wearing a face mask in public places will be compulsory, spitting in public spaces shall be punishable with fine and selected activities to be allowed from April 20 in non-hotspot places.
With 1,007 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, India's coronavirus tally crossed the 13,000 mark with the tally reading at 13,387 cases, said the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in its latest update on Friday. Out of the total tally, 11,201 patients are active cases while 1,789 patients have been cured, discharged and migrated. With 23 more deaths reported in the last 24 hours, the death toll has risen to 437.
(With agency inputs)