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21-day coronavirus lockdown to not be extended: Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba 'surprised' at reports suggesting the same

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Monday admitted that he was 'surpirsed' at reports suggesting that the central government had planned on extending the 21-day lockdown period, saying that there were no such plans to do the same.


I’m surprised to see such reports, there is no such plan of extending the lockdown: Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on reports of extending #CoronavirusLockdown (file pic)

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India on Monday recorded 1,000 COVID-19 positive cases, and the number is likely to increase this week, given the exponential way the coronavirus infection has spread globally.

Last week, Gauba had asked state chief secretaries and administrators of the Union Territories to extensively carry out contact tracing as more than 15 lakh international passengers have landed in India since January 18.

Gauba had admitted that there was a gap between the number of international passengers who need to be monitored by the States /UTs and the actual number of passengers being monitored.

He said, "We initiated screening of international incoming passengers at the airports with effect from 18th January 2020. I have been informed that upto 23rd March 2020, cumulatively, Bureau of immigration has shared details of more than 15 lakh incoming international passengers with the States/UTs for monitoring for COVID-19. However, there appears to be a gap between the number of International passengers who need to be monitored by the States /UTs and ihe actual number of passengers being monitored."

Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown as part of India's plan to battle coronavirus.

The centre has meanwhile allocated Rs 15,000 crore for medical facilities. “This will be used to increase isolation wards, ICU beds, medical beds, and medical and paramedical manpower,” the PM said, adding that states have been working hard, along with the private sector to focus on the healthcare sector.

In his speech, PM Modi added, “I’ve once again to talk to you about the pandemic that is coronavirus. On March 22, we had taken the pledge of Janta curfew, which we as a nation fulfilled with the responsible contribution of each Indian.”

From medical emergency management to economic and welfare meares: PM Modi sets up 11 high-level panel to fight coronavirus

The government on Sunday set up 11 high-level panel to deal with the issues and formulate comprehensive responses and strategies to help fight coronavirus battle.

This panel has been formed by invoking powers under the Disaster Management Act,2005.

Their role will be to identify problems and provide solutions, formulate plans and strategies and implemennt policies.

The Ependiture department has issued a notification that will help these groups to make and implement policies.

Senior representatives from the PMO and Cabinet Secretariat have been appointed to each group of officers to ensure coordination between the departments.

Out of the 11 groups, nine are headed by secretary level officers and two by NITI Aayog.

Here are the groups formed by the government;

Medical Emergency management- Headed by Dr V Paul, Member , NITI Ayog

Availability of all medical equipment- Headed by PD Vaghela, Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals

Availability of hospital, isolation facilities, testing centers- Headed by CK Mishra, Environment Secretary

HR and Capacity Building- Headed by Arun Panda, Secretary, MSME

Coordination with private sector, and NGOs- Headed by Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Ayog

Supply Chain and logistics management, food and medicine- Headed by Parmeshwaran Iyer, Secretary, Department of Water Resources

Economic and Welfare Measures- Headed by Atanu Chakrtaborty, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs

Public Awareness and Communication- Headed by Ravi Mittal, Information and Broadcasting Secretary

Public grievances and suggestions- Headed by Amit Khare, Secretary, HRD

Strategic issues of lockdown- Headed by AK Bhalla, Secretary, Home

Technology and data management- Headed by Ajay Sawhney, Secretary, MEITY


Great news: ICMR gives guidelines for 17 new kits to detect COVID-19

On Saturday, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) issued guidelines for use of commercial kits for nasal and throat swab based diagnosis of COVID-19 in India.

According to ICMR, Currently, RT-PCR probes for diagnosis of COVID-19 are procured from USA by ICMR-NIV and are distributed to the testing laboratories across the country. ICMR also said that it welcomes use of commercial kits for diagnosis of COVID-19.

In a statement ICMR said, "US FDA EUA/CE IVD approved kits can be used directly after due approval from DCGI and intimation to ICMR." The ICMR has also established a fast-track mechanism for validation of non US FDA EUA/CE IVD approved kits at ICMR NIV. Test kits with 100% concordance among true positive and true negative samples will be approved for commercial use in India.

ICMR also said that it has completed evaluation of 17 kits. The ICMR also released the results of the validation of these 17 kits.

The results of the validation are summarized in the following table:


The number of coronavirus cases across the world rose to 640,589 as on Saturday evening, with the US leading with 115,547 cases, while the global death toll rose to 30,249 according to data from the Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Centre.

Italy, with 10,023 fatalities, comprised over one third of the death toll, and was followed by Spain with 5,812 and China's Hubei with 3,177. Iran with 2,517 deaths, and France with 2,314 were joined in the four-figure category by the UK, where the toll is now 1,019. As regards the total number of cases, the US was followed by Italy (92,472), China (81,999), Spain (72,248), Germany (56,202), Iran (35,408), France (33,450) and the UK (17,301).


Coronavirus outbreak: Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to heart attacks in patients, says US doctors

As coronavirus cases across the world rose to 640,589 as on Saturday evening, reports have now surfaced saying that COVID-19 symptoms are similar to heart attacks in patients.

According to a report by New York Times, a 64-year-old patient who was admitted to a hospital in Brooklyn with symptoms looking like those seen in patients having a serious heart attack. An electrocardiogram revealed an ominous heart rhythm. Doctors rushed to open the patient’s blocked arteries — but found that no arteries were blocked. The patient was not having a heart attack. The culprit was the coronavirus.

The 64-year-old Brooklyn patient recovered after 12 days in the hospital and is now at home. But there have been reports of similar patients in the United States.

Chief science and quality officer at the American College of Cardiology, John Rumsfeld told New York Times, “We were thinking lungs, lungs, lungs — with us in a supportive role. Then all of a sudden we began to hear about potential direct impact on the heart.”


Experts have known that viral illnesses such as COVID-19 can cause respiratory infections that may lead to lung damage and even death in severe cases. Less is known about the effects on the cardiovascular system.

The number of coronavirus cases across the world rose to 640,589 as on Saturday evening, with the US leading with 115,547 cases, while the global death toll rose to 30,249 according to data from the Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Centre.

Italy, with 10,023 fatalities, comprised over one third of the death toll, and was followed by Spain with 5,812 and China's Hubei with 3,177. Iran with 2,517 deaths, and France with 2,314 were joined in the four-figure category by the UK, where the toll is now 1,019. As regards the total number of cases, the US was followed by Italy (92,472), China (81,999), Spain (72,248), Germany (56,202), Iran (35,408), France (33,450) and the UK (17,301).


FIR filed against AAP MLA Raghav Chadha for tweet claiming Yogi Adityanath 'beat migrants'

On Sunday, an FIR was filed against AAP MLA Raghav Chadha for making objectionable comments against UP CM Yogi Adityanath.

ANI News reported that the FIR had been filed against Raghav Chadha for his comments against Yogi Adityanath.

Chadha had tweeted that: “According to sources, Yogiji is getting migrants going from Delhi to UP beaten up. He is saying why did you go to Delhi and you will not be allowed to go to Delhi again. My appeal to UP government is not to do this and not to increase problems in this difficult hour.”

FIR filed against AAP MLA Raghav Chadha for tweet claiming Yogi Adityanath 'beat migrants' 

This led Yogi Adityanath’s media advisor Mrityunjay Kumar to slam the ‘fake news’ and promise that UP government would take action. Raghav Chadha subsequently deleted the fake tweet.


Noida: FIR registered against Aam Aadmi Party MLA Raghav Chadha for allegedly making objectionable comments against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The complaint was filed by advocate Prashant Patel. (file pics)

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9:30 PM - Mar 28, 2020
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A case was filed by lawyer Prashant Patel in Gautam Budh Nagar.

Prashant Patel Umrao

FIR is registered against AAP MLA Raghav Chadha on my complaint, for creating enmity, hatred & ill-will & for defaming CM @myogiadityanath Ji, u/s 500, 505(2) IPC & section 66 IT Act in Noida.

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Incidentally, Prashant Patel was the same lawyer who filed a case against the AAP govt who sought the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs for holding ‘Office of Profit’.

He had said in Jan 2018: “I am very happy that my struggle has paid off. When the appointments were made in March, I felt that something was not right. I read up on the issue and also checked its constitutional validity. After much research, I found the move was unconstitutional and filed a petition with the Presidents’ secretariat.”

In the past, he has filed complaints against Aamir Khan and Rajkumar Hirani for their film PK, filed an intervention in SC against Kanhaiya Kumar’s bail and filed a complaint against former CBFC chief Leela Samson.

A slugfest ensued between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) over the issue of movement of migrant workers from Delhi to its borders with Uttar Pradesh.

The slugfest came even as the political parties have over the past few weeks sought to present a united face in combating the challenge posed by COVID-19.

Migrant workers reached Anand Vihar bus terminal in large numbers on Saturday evening and the mandated social distancing norms were not being observed. They have also been going to Ghazipur border.

Political fissures erupted as Delhi party unit chief Manoj Tiwari asked Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to take steps that migrant workers return to their houses. AAP leader Raghav Chadha targeted Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in a tweet.

BJP General Secretary (Organisation) BL Santhosh took a veiled dig at AAP government and asked if something was amiss and if somebody was playing mischief.

"Tamilnadu border is only 36 kms from Bengaluru .. Andhra is less than 100 kms from Chennai. No migrant labourers exodus. Why only from Delhi ..? Something amiss here. Is somebody playing mischief ..? The very purpose of #LockDown is getting defeated. IndiaFightsCorona," he said in tweet.

Tiwari said Delhi government had ferried the people to the border.

"Arvind Kejriwal, You have ferried them in DTC buses till the border. Please ensure that every family is given ration for 15 days and are sent back to their places within the city in buses. Otherwise, it will become a big problem," he said.

Chadha alleged that migrant workers were being beaten up in Uttar Pradesh.

"According to sources, Yogiji is getting migrants going from Delhi to UP beaten up. He is saying why did you go to Delhi and you will not be allowed to go to Delhi again. My appeal to UP government is not to do this and not to increase problems in this difficult hour," he said.

A 21-day lockdown was enforced in the country from Tuesday midnight to contain the spread of coronavirus. Migrant workers have been reaching Delhi's border to go their native places.

Watch: China's 'All is Well' mask slips as Hubei citizens clash with cops amid coronavirus lockdown

Incidents of violent clashes erupting in the Chinese mainland have been reported as people in huge crowds, jamming buses and trains, are trying the leave the central province of Hubei -- centre of the coronavirus outbreak -- days after Beijing relaxed the two-month lockdown.

Canadian media outlet, The Globe and Mail, citing several videos posted on Chinese social media, reported on Friday that similar clashes took place on a bridge that links the Hubei province with the neighboring Jiangxi province.

The online videos also showed police vehicles being overturned and police scuffled with each other amid large crowds of people shouting for opening the blockade.

Watch Video:

W. B. Yeats
 · Mar 27, 2020
Replying to @WBYeats1865
#China Hubei citizens rushed to the frontline of the protest. 7/

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W. B. Yeats
#China A police car was overturned by Hubei citizens during the protest. 8/

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W. B. Yeats
 · Mar 27, 2020
Replying to @WBYeats1865
#China CCP Party Secretary of Huangmei County, Hubei Province, Ma Yanzhou arrived at the protest scene in an attempt to calm the angry crowd.

He told the protesters to "go home and wait for the good news" & "the government officials are dealing with this matter" 10/

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W. B. Yeats
#China #HubeiProtest Angry protesters from Hubei Province were filmed overturning a police van in the protest today. 11/

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4:28 AM - Mar 27, 2020
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W. B. Yeats
 · Mar 27, 2020
Replying to @WBYeats1865
#China A police car was overturned by Hubei citizens during the protest. 8/

Embedded video

W. B. Yeats
#China Angry citizens surrounded a police station in Jiujiang City.

They were shouting: "Jiujiang, apologize!" 9/

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W. B. Yeats
 · Mar 27, 2020
Replying to @WBYeats1865
#China #HubeiProtest Protesters from Hubei Province clashed with riot police. 12/

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W. B. Yeats
#China This is what caused the protests:

Police from Jiujiang City (Jiangxi Province) clashed with police from Huangmei County (Hubei Province).

The police from Jiangxi set up checkpoint inside Hubei's jurisdiction and subdued policemen from Hubei. 13/

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The confrontation came after a line of uniformed officers behind riot shields, positioned across the bridge and blocked entry to people from Hubei into Jiangxi, local media reported.

The clashes took place between 3 pm and 6 pm, a worker at a toll booth on the bridge told The Globe and Mail in an interview on Friday evening.

"It was on the middle of the bridge somewhere that the block was put in place," said Huang, a worker, without divulging further details to the foreign media.

On Friday evening, digital mapping apps showed the bridge closed from both sides, citing "construction".

In a brief commentary published on its Twitter-like Weibo account, the state-owned People's Daily called the bridge conflict "regrettable".

According to official government policy, those who live outside Wuhan and are considered healthy have been allowed to resume travels since Wednesday. Authorities re-opened railways and long-distance bus service, and completely remove all highway roadblocks by Friday.

The Hubei province has reported only a single new case of the deadly infection in the past week. The province counts nearly 68,000 confirmed cases and says 3,174 people have died from COVID-19 since the outbreak began late last year.

On Friday, authorities downgraded the virus risk classification of Wuhan from "high risk" to "medium risk." The tight lockdown measures in the city are scheduled to ease on April 8.

However, health officials have acknowledged that their tally of confirmed cases does not include people who have the virus but those who have not shown the symptoms. Those asymptomatic cases are believed to number in the tens of thousands, the report said.

More than 81,000 people have been infected by coronavirus in the mainland while over 3,000 succumbed to the infection, according to the data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

'Look after your loved ones': Cristiano Ronaldo shares family picture amid mother's recovery from stroke

Earlier this month, Cristiano Ronaldo's mother Maria Dolores suffered from stroke and was taken to the Dr. Ne'lio Mendonca hospital in the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Now, his mother is back from the hospital and is recovering at home. Ronaldo shared a family picture on Instagram with a caption which read: "Feeling very thankful to have my mum home from hospital and recovering. Look after your families and loved ones."

Earlier, Ronaldo reportedly agreed to a 3.8 million euro wage cut under Juventus following the global pandemic coronavirus crisis which has claimed over 10,000 lives in Italy.

The coronavirus has caused the suspension or cancellation of all sporting events including Italy's football league -- Serie A.

Italy surpassed China in the number of deaths caused by coronavirus making it the epicentre of the virus with over 10,000 casualties.

However, the United States has the highest number of cases with 1,24,464 followed by Italy (92,472).

Coronavirus in Mumbai: After death of 82-year-old doctor, Saifee hospital suspends operations for next 14 days

Following the death of an 82-year-old doctor admitted at Saifee Hospital, who had tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, the hospital has announced it will be ceasing all operations and new admissions for the next 14 days.

However, hospital authorities plan to set up a CoVID-19 response team on the premises.

Prashant Gaikwad, assistant municipal commissioner, D-ward, said the hospital had been asked to release patients, in cases where early discharge was possible. The hospital will only cater to already admitted patients for this period. “All OPDs, ICU and new admissions have been prohibited for the next 14 days,” he said.

In a ripple effect, 14 hospital staffers have been quarantined at the hospital. Gaikwad said, “We have identified 14 staffers at Saifee who were in close contact with the doctor. We have asked them to be quarantined for 14 days. Anyone developing symptoms will be isolated in Kasturba Hospital.”

Also, four people, two drivers employed by the family of the deceased doctor and two watchmen in their apartment building, also need to be tested as they were close to the household and were regularly provided meals by the family. They are under the observation of civic authorities and police.

Saifee Hospital authorities did not respond to calls. However, the PD Hinduja Hospital and Research Centre has confirmed that its OPD and IPD are operational and all safety measures have been implemented since the beginning of the month, in view of the pandemic.

“Comprehensive measures, which include special isolation wards and equipment for CoVID-19 patients, have been in place for several days at the hospital. Necessary precautions, as per the government guidelines, thorough screening of patients at entrance, sanitisation of all individuals and allowing only one attendant per patient to prevent overcrowding, have also been implemented,” read a statement issued by the hospital.


Amid the coronavirus outbreak, here's India's toughest question: Can India's slum dwellers follow a lockdown?

The sins of the past are to be heaped on the present. And nothing could be more frightening than slums – both for people outside and for those trapped inside. Maharashtra has begun its focus on slums. Expect other states to follow soon.

Maharashtra’s palpitations are understandable. It is the state with the largest slum population, dwarfing even Andhra Pradesh (see table). If the growth rate of the last decade (17.5% from 2001 to 2011) is taken as the norm, Maharashtra should have some 1.5 crore of slum dwellers. That is about 10% of the state population of 12.7 crore.


Siren song

For decades politicians – especially in Maharashtra --, but actually across India -- sold potential slumdwellers a dream. They identified a leader, a crowd-puller. “Come to me”, the crowd-puller said.

“Go forth,” commanded the crowd-puller. “Squat on government land, and I shall protect you.” The government land was invariably in a bustling city, from where migrating to jobs, or starting a vending outlet would be easy. The cash that the slumdweller made was shared by the crowd-puller and his minions (in India they call it hafta). Municipal inspectors were also given a share of the booty.

The crowd-puller then pleaded with the legislators to regularize the slum.In some cases, the land-grab and squatting rights were given to scheduled castes and tribes, so that any attempt to evict them would be called atrocity against the downtrodden.It was so brilliantly conceived. Politicians would also get the votes they needed.Democracy be damned.

So, the slums got regularised. And each household was given a free flat – from 350 square feet to 500 square feet. They called it regularization. The courts vetted on humanitarian grounds.

Yes, there were bogus households. Study table 2 and you will see how the game is played. The legislators knew all about bogus households. But they urged people to look the other way. The booty is to be shared, isn’t it, they asked. Everyone benefits. The politicians chortled. And we could be shown as having a concern for the downtrodden, for the helpless and the shelterless. The songs were seductive, all right.

Honesty is stupidity

The poor, honest, god-fearing Bihari was a sucker. He was willing to slave. He was willing to stay six people to a room, pay his rent. Legally. Stupid man! He could have gone to the crowd puller and got his house for free.

Nobody bothered about the message that legislators were sending to people – don’t bother about being right; instead demand the illegal as your birthright.

The Election Commission also looked the other way. He refused to ask the question, can an illegal address on an illegally acquired land be treated as the address for granting voting rights?

After all, all legislators wanted a way to create votebanks. They had found a way to win votes in an area where the local community did not want them. Democracy be damned. This was better than stuffing ballot boxes. What an exciting game!

Some governments like Maharashtra even decided to waive property taxes in perpetuity. The taxpayers can pay for the loss to municipal receipts, they chuckled.

The day of reckoning

So long as it was malaria, or diarrhoea in slums, it was all right. It was a disease which afflicted the poor. The rich and the privileged were still safe.

Then came Covid1- or coronavirus. The rich were the targets. It spread through aeroplanes and through cruise ships; in conference rooms as well. Yet it could be carried and spread by the poor. Now could get to the rich and the powerful as well. Now the slums have begun to haunt the politicians. They are giving it special attention and focus.

Suddenly India’s legislators have begun waking up to the great danger they are confronted with. And a big problem too.How do you lockdown a slum?How do you enforce social distancing in a slum where more than 3-4 people live in a room – never mind official statistics which showed less than one person (fractions are permitted on paper) as a size of each slum household.

They had now begun to realise that the growth of slums was faster than the growth of populations. And the growth of households was ridiculously far more rapid than the growth in slum populations.

They had begun to acknowledge the absurdity of having a household size of just 0.5 people per household, confirming that entitlements for slums had become ten times larger than they ought to be (subsidised electricity, water, gas cylinders and rations are given to households, not the numbers of people). The slum dweller voted the crowd-puller to power during elections. The crowd-puller had protected them. Now coronavirus had made that relationship uncomfortable. The slumdweller was now the big threat to the crowd-puller’s own existence.

With climate change and rapid urbanization, the prevalence of epidemics has become more frequent than in the past century. If coronavirus goes, expect another to erupt periodically. With more epidemics, slums have begun to threaten the powerful and the privileged.

The politician was now between the rock and a hard place. He could not do without slums as his power base depended on them. He couldn’t keep them either, because now they would spread the disease. It was after-all impossible to lockdown a slum.


Sickening data

Look at the numbers., Watch how many more cities have begun to sprout slums – almost all of them politician protected and abetted.

Within ten years, the number of cities which had slums erupted from 1,743 to 2,613. Expect the number to touch 4,000 or more in Census 2021 (whenever it actually materialises).

So, will the legislators treat each slum as a concentration camp? Will they insist that exit and entry would only be reserved only for those who are given a cleat chit of health each time they come in or go out? Wouldn’t that create a public whiplash? Or will there be an attempt to allow more slum dwellers to die? To smother them?

Cynics see the decision to allow private clinics to charge Rs.4,500 per Covit-19 test as an attempt to allow more poor people to die. The rich can afford Rs.4,500. The poor must go to government hospitals -- the likes of Kasturba Hospital in Mumbai, where even if you don’t have Covid-19, the surroundings and the crowds milling around the hospital will ensure that you get it. The absence of free sanitary isolation wards will be denied to them – Kasturba has common toilets for isolation wards, ensuring that the virus spreads faster.

Within the slums, people huddle 3-6 people per room, making a mockery of social distancing. They cannot go out of a slum; nor can they stay in. Unfortunately, most housemaids and ward boys come from such slums. Now you realise that you cannot do without them, and you cannot do with them either.

This is the crisis India’s administrators face. The sins of creating votebanks are coming back to haunt them. The dangers of marginalizing original voters are rearing their heads as in a horrifying nightmare.

Assam was just a rash, a pimple of a political movement. Now Covid-19 has made it an Armageddon. Covid-19 has become the great leveller. It could perhaps become the biggest nemesis India’s legislators will face.

Union Power Ministry committed to ensuring 24×7 electricity supply during coronavirus lockdown, no penalty for late payment

The coronvirus lockdown has left Indians in frenzy. Due to the lockdown, consumers are unable to pay their dues to the Distribution Companies (Discoms). To resolve this issue, union Minister of Power RK Singh said that in this time of crisis the Ministry of Power is committed to provide 24x7 supply of electricity to all consumers.

The inability to pay power bills on time has affected the liquidity position of the Discoms thereby impairing their ability to pay to the generating and transmission companies. In this context, Singh has approved significant relief measures for power sector ..

The power ministry has taken following decisions to ease the liquidity problems of the Discoms –

a. Central Power Sector Undertaking Generation / Transmission Companies will continue supply/ transmission of electricity even to Discoms which have large outstanding dues to the Generation / Transmission companies. During the present emergency there will be no curtailment of supply to any DISCOM.

b. Till May 31, 2020 the payment security mechanism to be maintained by the Distribution Companies with the Generating Companies for dispatch of power shall be reduced by fifty percent.

c. Directions have been issued to the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission to provide a moratorium of three months to Discoms to make payments to generating companies and transmission licensees and not to levy penal rates of late payment surcharge. State Governments are being requested to issue similar directions to State Electricity Regulatory Commissions.

Around 70 per cent of power generation is from coal based power plants. In order to maintain the continuity of supply of coal by domestic coal companies and transportation by railways, the ministry is in touch with the Ministries of Railways and Coal.