The Centre on Thursday asked states to ensure strict implementation of lockdown and night curfew protocols, saying it has noticed violation of the restrictions at several places.
In a communication to all states and union territories, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla asked them to strictly ensure prohibition of all non-essential activities between 7 pm and 7 am, saying the night curfew imposed to contain the coronavirus spread is an 'important element of the home ministry guidelines'.
He said the night curfew has been imposed to ensure that people observe social distance.
"Accordingly, local authorities should be asked to issue orders in the entirety of their jurisdiction, under proper provisions of law, for imposition of night curfew. Strict compliance of these orders should be ensured by the local authorities," he said.
Bhalla said the Home Ministry has noticed reports of violation of its guidelines at several places.
"I would like to emphasise that the MHA guidelines should be strictly implemented, and all authorities in states and UTs should take necessary steps to ensure the same," he said.
These stipulations, such as wearing face covers, ensuring social distancing at work, transport and in public places, maintaining hygiene and sanitation etc., are important for containing the spread of COVID-19.
"It is the duty of all district and local authorities to enforce the national directives," he said.
"I would request all the chief secretaries of states and administrators of union territories to remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19 and ensure that all measures that have either been mandated by MHA or laid down by the States and UTs, are scrupulously adhered to at all levels," Bhalla said.
After the lockdown was extended till May 31, the Home Ministry issued fresh guidelines relaxing some curbs that were imposed during the first three phases, except in the containment zones.
Bhalla said a proper delineation of containment zones and effective implementation of containment measures is key to preventing the further spread of COVID- 19.
In this respect, the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare need to be followed and containment zones properly demarcated.
'States and UTs can now delineate various zones, and decide on the activities to be prohibited, or allowed with restrictions, in accordance with the MHA guidelines.
'Further, once the guidelines have been issued by the states and UTs, they should be strictly implemented, and action taken if any deviations are noticed,' the home secretary said in the letter.
The lockdown was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 for 21 days.
It was then extended till May 3 and again till May 17.
The lockdown has now been extended till May 31.
The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 3,435 and the number of cases climbed to 1,12,359 in the country till Thursday 8 am, according to the Union health ministry.
Central forces deployed in Dharavi, other Mumbai areas
Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel were deployed in Dharavi and some other areas of Mumbai on Thursday to help the city police enforce lockdown to contain coronavirus, an official said.
A company of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was deployed at Dharavi along with local police, the police official said.
Earlier, on Wednesday night, personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force conducted a flag march in Bhendi Bazaar in south Mumbai to enforce a strict lockdown.
On Thursday, CRPF personnel met police officers in Dharavi, a COVID-19 hotspot, and discussed deployment plan for the area, the official said.
Five companies of CAPF, including personnel of CISF, arrived in Mumbai on Monday, he said.
Armed with weapons, batons and shields, CISF personnel conducted a flag march in Bhendi Bazaar on Wednesday night, he said.
The Maharashtra government had said that it had sought central forces so that the overstretched police force could get some rest.
More than 700 Mumbai Police personnel have contracted coronavirus so far and ten of them have died.
The central forces will assist the Mumbai Police in maintaining law and order and in prevention of any untoward incident during lockdown.
Personnel of the Central forces have been deployed in zones 1,3,5,6 and 9 of the city covering some areas of south and central Mumbai and parts of eastern and western suburbs, the police official said.