Tag Archives: Covid

FSSAI directions for food business during covid

Press Release of FSSAI dated 20th April, 2021 giving directions for facilitating food business during covid 19

To facilitate the continuity of food business operations during the prevailing COVID-19 outbreak, the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has taken immediate steps to ensure uninterrupted food services/supply during the current scenario.
FSSAI has reiterated and clarified that Import clearances of food items and testing services by FSSAI’s notified
laboratories (including both public and private laboratories) are Essential Services.
Directions, with immediate effect have been issued to:

  1. Allow FBOs, other than manufacturers, to temporarily operate their businesses on the basis of a valid receipt
    of FSSAI license/ registration application having 17- digit Application Reference Number (ARN) generated
    upon online application and fee payment on FoSCoS. This will enable quick expansion of logistic supply
    chains, warehouses, retail outlets, catering, food service establishments etc. wherever required. New
    businesses can start operating once they successfully file a complete application on FOSCOS. This is an
    interim relief measure, the licence/ registration will need to be secured before the expiry of the relaxation.
  2. Manufacturers are allowed to increase/ enhance their capacity, on the basis of a valid receipt of FSSAI
    license/ registration application having 17- digit Application Reference Number (ARN) generated upon
    online application and fee payment on FoSCoS. This will enable immediate upscaling of production facilities
    without waiting for regulatory approvals.
  3. No routine inspections are required to be done except in case of high risk food product viz. Milk and milk
    products, slaughter houses, meat and meat products etc. However, food safety authorities can conduct
    inspections in case of select cases on basis of risk profiling or in case of any food emergency/ incidents and
    complaints. Where feasible, inspections can be done by e-inspection.
  4. The deadline for returns for 2020-21 has been extended till 30th, June 2021. All returns are required to be
    filed online on FOSCOS.
  5. No penalty shall be payable for late filing of application for renewal of licenses.
    These measures are until and shall cease w.e.f. 30.06.2021 irrespective of the status of lockdown/ curfew/ containment at any location. More details are available at http://www.fssai.gov.in

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helpdesk for trade – covid


Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has set up dedicated helpdesk to handle queries related to Covid related Imports and handhold the trade, industry and individuals  for expeditious customs clearance. As you are aware, the Government of India is committed to ensure seamless and quick customs clearance of COVID related imports, so that it reaches the users/beneficiaries in time.

Queries and requests are being received by the Department from various quarters. These relate to availability of duty exemption benefits,   to clearance procedures, registration requirements from various ministries etc. In order to streamline this  process and cater to all the queries and grievances of the trade, a dedicated cell I has been  set up by the CBIC.

To handhold the trade relating to clearances, an online form has been created under this URL ( https://t.co/IAOQenWwO2) to seek details in a structured format and redress the grievances,at the earliest. For general queries, the users may send an email through icegatehelpdesk@icegate.gov.in or call up toll free number 1800-3010-1000. The requests being received at Helpdesk  will  be closely monitored for early resolution.

Further, to resolve the grievances at the local level,  zonal level nodal officers have also been nominated and this list can be found in the following URL (https://www.cbic.gov.in/resources//htdocs-cbec/CBIC%20Nodal%20Officers%20for%20Covid%2019%20Revised.pdf).

Shri Gaurav Masaldan, Joint Secretary, Customs will be the nodal officer in the CBIC for  appropriate  resolution of grievances and expeditious clearances of goods, relating to Covid related equipment and raw materials, especially oxygen and oxygen related equipment   In case of non- resolution of grievances through the helpdesk or zonal officers, the same may be escalated by way of a self-explanatory SMS or Whatsapp on his number : 9810619628 or email: masaldan.gaurav@nic.in .

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covid helpdesk for international trade


Department of Commerce, Government of India and Directorate General of Foreign Trade(DGFT) have undertaken to monitor the status of exports and imports, and difficulties being faced by trade stakeholders in view of the surge of COVID-19 cases. DGFT has accordingly operationalised a ‘COVID-19 Helpdesk’ to support and seek suitable resolutions to issues arising in respect of International Trade.

 This ‘COVID-19 Helpdesk’ would look into issues relating to Department of Commerce/DGFT, Import and Export Licensing Issues, Customs clearance delays and complexities arising thereon, Import/Export documentation issues, Banking matters etc. Helpdesk would also collect and collate trade related issues concerning other Ministries/Departments/Agencies of Central Government and State Governments and will co-ordinate to seek their support and provide possible resolution(s).

All stakeholders, particularly the Exporters and Importers, may submit information on the DGFT website and submit information relating to their issues on which support is required using the following steps—

  1. Navigate to the DGFT Website (https://dgft.gov.in)           Services           DGFT             Helpdesk Service
  2.  ‘Create New Request’ and select the Category as ‘Covid-19′
  3.  Select the suitable sub-category, enter the other relevant details and submit.

Alternatively, One can send their issues to email id: dgftedi@nic.in with the subject header: Covid-19 Helpdesk or call at Toll Free No 1800-111-550

The status of resolutions and feedback may be tracked using the Status tracker under the DGFT Helpdesk Services. Email and SMS would also be sent as and when the status of these tickets are updated.

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ports waive charges for covid related cargo


In view of the excessive requirement of Oxygen and related equipment in the country, the Government  of India has directed all Major Ports, including the Kamarajar Port Limited, to waive-off all charges levied by Major Port Trusts (including vessel related charges, storage charges etc.) and accord highest priority in the berthing sequence to the vessels carrying consignments of ;

  • Medical Grade Oxygen,
  • Oxygen Tanks,
  • Oxygen Bottles,
  • Portable Oxygen Generators,
  • Oxygen Concentrators,
  • Steel Pipes for manufacturing Oxygen Cylinders and associated equipment for the next THREE months, or until further orders.

Port Chairpersons have been asked to personally supervise logistic operations to ensure unhindered movement of such consignments for berthing of such vessel on top priority in the port, unloading of oxygen related cargo, coordination with Customs and other authorities for speedy clearance/documentation and expeditious evacuation of oxygen related cargo from port.

In case the vessel is carrying other cargo/containers in addition to above said oxygen related cargo, waiver of charges on pro-rata basis, considering the overall cargo or containers handled at port, should be provided for oxygen related cargo to such vessels.

Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways will monitor the details of such vessels, cargo and time taken in the port from the time vessel entered in the port limits to exit of cargo from port gate.

Government of India  is deeply engaged in handling the crisis related to the second wave of COVID-19 in the country and taking all steps to counter the situation through appropriate and innovative measures.

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covid vaccines for all


Union Health Secretary Shri Rajesh Bhushan and Dr R S Sharma, Chairman, Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management to combat COVID-19 chaired a high-level meeting to guide the States/UTs on effective implementation of the New Vaccination Strategy (Phase-3) and to review their augmentation plans so as to strengthen the existing hospital and clinical treatment infrastructure for COVID patients.  

Dr R S Sharma noted that the CoWIN platform has now stabilized and is working at scale flawlessly. It is equipped to handle the complexities of the new phase of vaccination starting from 1st May. He highlighted the importance of uploading correct and timely data by States/UTs as any incorrect data would compromise the integrity of the entire system.           
With regards to the Phase III Vaccination strategy from 1st May 2021, the States were specifically advised to:

  • Register additional private COVID Vaccination Centres (CVCs) in mission mode by engaging with private hospitals, hospitals of industrial establishments, Industry Associations, etc., coordinating with designated appropriate authority, mechanism for applications/requests and their processing and monitoring of pendency of registration.
  • Monitor number of hospitals that have procured vaccines and have declared stocks and prices on COWIN.
  • Schedule Vaccination for eligible population for providing adequate visibility of vaccination slots on COWIN.
  • Prioritize Decision regarding direct procurement of vaccines by State/UT Government.
  • Publicize about facility of ‘only online registration’ for age groups 18-45 year.
  • Train CVC staff about Vaccination, AEFI reporting and management, Use of COWIN – Training schedule and Reconciliation of vaccine stocks have been already provided to private CVCs.
  • Coordinate with law-and-order authorities for effective crowd management at CVCs.

Regarding infrastructure augmentation for effective clinical treatment of the hospitalized COVID patients, States were advised to review their existing hospital and other COVID treatment infrastructure in light of the daily new case, daily fatality and those that would require hospitalization.

To prepare and implement a Comprehensive Plan for Augmentation, the States were advised to:

  • Identify additional Dedicated Covid-19 hospitals and prepare field hospital facilities either through DRDO, CSIR or similar agencies in the public and private sector.
  • Ensure adequacy in terms of oxygen supported beds, ICU beds and oxygen supplies.  Setting up centralized call center-based services for allocation of beds.
  • Deploy of requisite Human Resources with proper Training & mentoring of doctors and nurses for management of patients and Strengthening ambulance services.
  • Establish of sufficient referral linkages for districts with deficit infrastructure through deployment of additional ambulances.
  • Set up of centralized call center-based services for allocation of beds.

The States were also advised to:

  • Maintain a real-time record for available beds and make is easily accessible to general public
  • Create guidelines and enable states to take over private health facilities to provide COVID-19 care
  • Expand designated COVID-19 care facilities for isolation of asymptomatic and mild symptomatic patients so that all those who either cannot isolate at home and/or are willing for institutional isolation, have access to the requisite space and care
  • Provide tele-medicine facilities for patients who are isolated at home
  • Ensure adequate availability of oxygen, ventilators and intensive care under trained doctors, as well as access to steroids and other drugs as appropriate
  • step up creation of in-hospital oxygen plants in large hospitals
  • Pay fair and regular remuneration to ASHAs and other frontline workers who are being engaged for COVID-19

Various steps taken by the Union Government to augment hospital infrastructure in the States and UTs were reiterated, such as Union Government’s instructions to Hospitals under the control of Central departments/PSUs to set-up exclusive dedicated hospitals or separate blocks within the hospitals. The plan to set up temporary COVID Care facilities and makeshift hospitals, including ICU beds, in coordination with the DRDO and CSIR-CBRI was re-iterated. The State/UTs were guided to co-ordinate with Corporate entities/PSUs/Government Departments for their CSR funds to facilitate setting up makeshift hospitals and temporary COVID care facilities. Cooperation with National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) for repurposing healthcare facilities (spread across 18 regional offices) for creation of COVID facilities was also advised. They were also advised to use Railway Coaches for management of mild cases; details of availability of 3,816 such coaches, across 16 Zones of Railways have been shared with the States.

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timelines extended due to covid


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CSR eligibile activity

MCA has vide its circular dated 22nd April, 2021 clarified that CSR spend on setting up makeshift hospitals and temporary covid facilities is an eligible CSR activity.

Companies can therefore do their CSR spend on these activities i.e. setting up makeshift hospitals and temporary covid facilities in collaboration with other parties or with the municipal corporations or health departments of the state.

Copy of the circular can be found at the MCA site.

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ESI Hospitals


To deal with the resurgence of COVID-19 Pandemic, theEmployees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) under the Ministry of Labour and Employment has undertaken multiple steps to cater to its Stakeholders as well as general public.  

  • A total of 21 ESIC Hospitals directly run by ESIC with 3676 Covid Isolation Beds having 229 ICU/163 ventilator beds across India are functioning as COVID-19 Dedicated Hospitals to exclusively provide COVID medical services to the general public. Besides, six ESIC Hospitals are also providing Covid and non-Covid services.
  • Also, the 26 ESI Scheme Hospitals run by State Governments having 2023 beds across India are functioning as Covid Dedicated Hospitals.
  • Plasma therapy, which is shown to save the lives of serious COVID-19 patients, has been started in ESIC Medical College & Hospital, Faridabad (Haryana) and ESIC Medical College & Hospital, Sanath Nagar (Telangana).
  • Alternative arrangements have been made for providing medical services from Tie-up Hospitals, if an ESIC Hospital is declared as dedicated Covid-19 Hospital. In such cases, ESI beneficiaries can be referred to tie-up Hospitals for providing prescribed secondary/SST consultation/admission/investigation, during the period for which concerned ESIC Hospital functions as a dedicated Covid-19 Hospital. ESI Beneficiaries may also seek Emergency/non-Emergency medical treatment from tie-up hospital directly without referral letter, in accordance with his/her entitlement.
  • Covid Nodal Officers have been nominated at each ESIC Hospital for effective coordination with State/Central Health Authorities.
  • In addition to above, instructions have been issued to each ESIC hospital to function with a minimum of 20% of its bed capacity as dedicated Covid beds for ESI IPs, beneficiaries, staff & pensioners.
  • In order to ease out the hardship of ESI Beneficiaries in these difficult times, ESIC has allowed purchase of medicines by beneficiaries from private chemists and reimbursements will be made by ESIC subsequently.

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Six Minute Walk Test


It has become necessary to check the functioning of our lungs in recent times during the global pandemic and it can be done with a simple test prescribed by the health department of Maharashtra. It is a six minute walk test and the Principal Secretary of Maharashtra Pradeep Vyas has appealed to increase the awareness among the citizens about the simple test which can be done at home.

This test helps to identify the depletion in oxygen level and the patient can be immediately admitted to the hospital if the level drops below the critical level.

The test is necessary for those,

who have fever, cough and cold or symptoms of Corona infection as well as for those patients who are in home isolation.

How to do the test

Note down the Oxygen level with the help of pulse oximeter by putting your finger in the oximeter ( properly keeping the finger in contact with the sensor). Do not remove the oximeter  and start walking in the room with the oximeter on your finger and walk for six minutes( do not climb stairs). Ensure that you are not walking too fast or too slow and you are walking with normal speed. After walking for six minutes note down the oxygen level again.

If the Oxygen level is not dropped after six minutes then you can consider yourself to be healthy and even if the level is dropped by 1 or 2 percent, you need not worry and repeat the test for 2 more times and monitor for the change in the level.

Conclusion of the Test

If the Oxygen level is dropped below 93 or it is reducing by more than 3 percent of the initial level registered before walking and the person is feeling tired or exhausted and breathless after walking for six minutes, then it can be deduced that the person is not getting enough oxygen according to his/her requirement and needs to be hospitalised immediately.

Those who feel breathlessness even while sitting should not perform this test. Persons above 60 years of age can do this test for 3 minutes instead of 6 minutes

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covid-19 vax for above 18


In a meeting chaired by PM Narendra Modi, an important decision of allowing vaccination to everyone above the age of 18 from 1st May has been taken. PM said that the Government has been working hard from over a year to ensure that maximum numbers of Indians are able to get the vaccine in the shortest possible of time. He added that India is vaccinating people at world record pace& we will continue this with even greater momentum.

India’s National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy has been built on a systematic and strategic end-to-end approach, proactively building capacity across R&D, Manufacturing and Administration since April 2020. While pushing for scale and speed, it has simultaneously been anchored in the stability necessary to sustainably execute the World’s Largest Vaccination Drive.

India’s approach has been built on scientific and epidemiological pillars, guided by Global Best Practices, SoPs of WHO as well as our India’s foremost experts in the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC).

India has been following a dynamic mapping model based on availability of vaccines & coverage of vulnerable priority groups to take decisions of when to open up vaccinations to other age-groups. A good amount of coverage of vulnerable groups is expected by 30th April.

Phase-I of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy was launched on 16th January 2021, prioritizing protection for our protectors, our Health Care Workers (HCWs) and Front Line Workers (FLWs). As systems and processes stabilized, Phase-II was initiated from 1st March 2021, focusing on protecting our most vulnerable i.e. all people above 45 years of age, accounting for more than 80% Covid mortality in the country. The private sector was also roped in to augment capacity.

As per PM Modi’s directions, Government of India has proactively engaged and coordinated with stakeholders across the spectrum, from research institutes to national and international manufacturers, global regulators etc. The strength of India’s private sector vaccine manufacturing capability has been strategically empowered through unprecedented decisive steps, from facilitating public-private collaborative research, trials and product development, to targeted public grants and far-reaching governance reforms in India’s regulatory system. Government of According to PM Modi’s instructions, India is in regular touch with each manufacturer, including having sent multiple inter-ministerial teams on site, to understand each one’s requirements and provide proactive and customized support in the form of grants, advance payments, more sites for production, etc to ramp up vaccine production.

This has resulted in Emergency Use Authorisation being granted to two indigenously manufactured vaccines (Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech), and a third vaccine (Sputnik) that while presently manufactured abroad will eventually be manufactured in India.

Government of India has roped in the private sector in the vaccination drive right from the beginning. Now, as capabilities and processes have stabilized, the public as well as private sector has the experience and confidence to rapidly scale up.

In its Phase-III, the National Vaccine Strategy aims at liberalised vaccine pricing and scaling up of vaccine coverage. This would augment vaccine production as well as availability, incentivising vaccine manufacturers to rapidly ramp up their production as well as attract new vaccine manufacturers, domestic and international. It would also make pricing, procurement, eligibility and administration of vaccines open and flexible, allowing all stakeholders the flexibility to customise to local needs and dynamics.

The main elements of the  Liberalised and Accelerated Phase 3 Strategy of the National Covid-19 Vaccination program that would come in effect from 1st May 2021, are as follows:-

(i)      Vaccine manufacturers would supply 50% of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to Govt. of India and would be free to supply the remaining 50% doses to State Govts. and in the open market (hereinafter referred to as other than Govt. of India channel).

 (ii)    Manufacturers would transparently make an advance declaration of the price for 50% supply that would be available to State Govts. and in open market, before 1st May 2021. Based on this price, State governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments etc would be able to procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers. Private Hospitals would have to procure their supplies of Covid-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50% supply earmarked for other than Govt. of India channel. Private Vaccination providers shall transparently declare their self-set vaccination price. The eligibility through this channel would be opened up to all adults, i.e. everyone above the age of 18.

(iii)    Vaccination shall continue as before in Govt. of India vaccination centres, provided free of cost to the eligible population as defined earlier i.e. Health Care Workers (HCWs), Front Line Workers (FLWs) and all people above 45 years of age.

(iv)    All vaccination (through Govt. of India and Other than Govt. of India channel) would be part of the National Vaccination Programme, and mandated to follow all protocol such as being captured on CoWIN platform, linked to AEFI reporting and all other prescribed norms. Stocks and price per vaccination applicable in all vaccination centres will also have to be reported real-time.

(v)     The division of vaccine supply 50% to Govt. of India and 50% to other than Govt. of India channel would be applicable uniformly across for all vaccines manufactured in the country. However Government of India will allow the imported fully ready to use vaccines to be entirely utilized in the other than Govt. of India channel.

(vi)    Govt. of India, from its share, will allocate vaccines to States/UTs based on the criteria of extent of infection (number of active Covid cases) & performance (speed of administration). Wastage of vaccine will also be considered in this criteria and will affect the criteria negatively. Based on the above criteria, State-wise quota would be decided and communicated to the States adequately in advance.

(vii) Second dose of all existing priority groups i.e. HCWs, FLWs and population above 45 years, wherever it has become due, would be given priority, for which a specific and focused strategy would be communicated to all stakeholders.

(viii) This policy would come into effect from 1st May 2021 and will be reviewed from time to time.

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CSR for covid vax

MCA has clarified vide its circular no. 1/2021 dated 13th January, 2021 that any expenditure going towards awareness campaign / public outreach campaign on the covid vaccination program will be considered as CSR activity and the expenses can accordingly be taken under that head by the companies.

Earlier it was clarified that expenditure on covid related activity be considered as a CSR spend.

Copy of the MCA circular can be found at its site.

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life certificate under EPFO


In view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the vulnerability of elderly population to Corona Virus, EPFO has extended the time limit up to 28th February 2021 for submission of Life Certificate (Jeevan Pramaan Patra-JPP) in respect of the Pensioners drawing pension under EPS 1995 and whose Life certificate is due in any month till February 28, 2021. Presently a Pensioner can submit JPP anytime during the year upto 30th November,  which is valid for a period of one year from the date of issue.

All such pensioners can submit Life Certificate till February 28, 2021. Multiple modes for submission of JPPs including 3.65 lakh Common Service Centres (CSCs), Branches of Pension Disbursing Banks 1.36 lakh post offices, Postal Network of 1.90 lakh Postmen and Grameen Dak Sevaks under the Department of Post can be availed by pensioners.

Pensioners can use link for locating the nearest CSCs (https://locator.csccloud.in/) and link for placing online request to Post Offices for submission of JPPs from comfort of their Home or elsewhere (http://ccc.cept.gov.in/covid/request.aspx).

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re-opening of universities & colleges


The University Grants Commission framed and issued Guidelines for the universities and colleges for reopening their campuses.These Guidelines have been vetted by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Education. The Guidelines may be adopted by the institutions as per the local conditions and directives of the Government authorities.

The Universities and Colleges outside the containment zones may be opened in a graded manner after consultations with concerned State/UT Governments and subject to adherence to the guidelines/SOP for safety and health protocol prepared by UGC, as under:

  1. For Centrally Funded Higher Education Institutions, the Head of the Institution should satisfy herself/himself regarding the feasibility of the opening of physical classes and decide accordingly.
  1. For all other Higher Educational Institutions, e.g., State Universities, Private Universities, Colleges etc., opening of physical classes to be done as per the decision of the respective State/UT Governments.
  1. Universities and colleges may plan opening the campuses in phases, with such activities where they can easily adhere to social distancing, use of face masks and other protective measures This may include administrative offices, research laboratories and libraries etc.
  1. Thereafter, students of all research programmes and post-graduate students in science & technology programmes may join as the number of such students is comparatively less and norms of physical distancing and preventive measures canbe easily enforced.
  1. Further, final year students may also be allowed to join for academic and placement purposes, as per the decision of the head of the institution.

However, for (iii), (iv) and (v) above, it should be ensured that not more than 50% of the total students should be present at any point of time and necessary guidelines/protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are in place.

  1. For the programmes, other than those mentioned in paras (iv) and (v) above, online/distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged.
  1. However, if required, students may visit their respective departments in a small number for consultation with the faculty members, after seeking prior appointments to avoid crowding, while maintaining physical distancing norms and other safety protocols.
  1. Some students may opt not to attend classes and prefer to study online while staying at home. Institutions may provide online study material and access to e-resources to such students for teaching-learning.
  1. Institutions should have a plan ready for such international students who could not join the programme due to international travel restrictions or visa-related issues. Online teaching-learning arrangements should also be made for them.
  1. Hostels may be opened only in such cases where it is necessary while strictly observing the safety and health preventive measures. However, the sharing of rooms may not be allowed in hostels. Symptomatic students should not be permitted to stay in the hostels under any circumstances.
  1. Before the reopening of any campus, the Central or concerned State Government must have declared the area safe for opening of educational institutions. The directions, instructions, guidelines and orders issued by the Central and concerned State Government regarding safety and health in view of COVID-19 must be fully abided by the higher education institutions.

These Guidelines provide in detail the measures to be taken by Higher Educational Institutions before re-opening of campuses. It also describes the safety measures to be taken by HEIs at Entry/Exit Point(s), in the classrooms and other learning sites, inside the campus and in the Hostels. Guidance for counselling and mental health is also provided in this document.

Earlier, the University Grants Commission issued “Guidelines on Examinations and Academic Calendar for the Universities in View of COVID-I9 Pandemic and Subsequent Lockdown” on 29th April, 2020 and then, on 6th July, 2020. These Guidelines covered important dimensions related to examinations, academic calendar, admissions, online teaching-learning, and provided flexibility for adoption by the universities.

Later, “UGC Guidelines on Academic Calendar for the First Year of Under-Graduate and Post-Graduate Students of the Universities for the Session 2020-21 in View of COVID-19 Pandemic” were issued on 24thSeptember, 2020.

Click here for the detailed UGC guidelines for Re-opening the Universities and Colleges Post Lockdown

Click here for the salient features of UGC guidelines for Re-opening the Universities and Colleges Post Lockdown

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unemployment benefit


ESIC has issued instructions for submission of claims by the affected workers to claim relief under recently expanded Atal Beemit Kalyan Yojna in which relief is to be paid to to those ESI members who lost their job. Claims to get the relief can be made online at website http://www.esic.in along with submission of the physical claim with an affidavit, photocopy of Aadhaar Card and Bank Account details to the designated ESIC Branch Office by post or in person.

It may be stated that ESI Corporation under the Chairmanship of Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar,  Minister of State (I/C) for Labour and Employment has taken the decision to extend the scheme of Atal Beemit Kalyan Yojana for another one year i.e. from 1st July, 2020 to 30th  June, 2021. It has also been decided to enhance the rate of unemployment relief under the scheme to 50% of wages from earlier rate of 25% along with relaxation of eligibility conditions for insured workers who have lost their employment due to COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdown. Under the existing guidelines, claim for the unemployment benefit was required to be submitted through the employer. Shri Gangwar said that in a significant relaxation, claim can now be submitted directly to the designated ESIC Branch Office. The enhanced benefit and relaxed conditions are applicable during the period 24th March 2020 to 31st December 2020. A notification to this intent has been issued.

The relief will be paid directly to the bank accounts of workers. Labour Minister, while lauding the efforts of ESIC said that at present, ESIC is providing benefits /services to about 3.49 Crore of family units of workers and providing matchless cash benefits and reasonable medical care to its 13.56 crore beneficiaries. Today, its infrastructure has increased many folds with 1520 Dispensaries (including mobile dispensaries)/307 ISM Units and 159 ESI Hospitals, 793 Branch/Pay Offices and 64 Regional & Sub-Regional Offices and implemented in 566 districts in 34 States/ UTs.

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e-insurance policies

Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has vide its circular dated 10th September, 2020 allowed insurance companies to digitally issue insurance policies subject to taking proper precautions and following proper systems and procedures as laid down. They have also dispensed with the requirement of physical documents including wet signatures from the insured persons again subject to following certain precautions and steps involved. This will be applicable as a short term measure due to the covid pandemic, upto 31st March, 2021. Gist of the IRDAI circular is given below:

Re: (a) Issuance of Electronic Policies and (b) dispensing with physical documents and wet signature on the proposal form

This has reference to Regulation 4 of IRDAI (Issuance of e-Insurance policies) Regulations,2016 and Regulation 18read with Regulation 8 (1) of IRDAI (Protection of Policyholders’ Interests) Regulations, 2017.

2. In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, based on representations received from insurers, the Authority, in exercise of powers vested under proviso to Regulation 4(iii) of IRDAI (Issuance of e-Insurance policies) Regulations,2016 hereby grants exemption to insurers from the requirement of (a) issuing policy document and (b) copy of the proposal in physical form in respect of the following, subject to insurers complying with certain requirements as stated in Para 3 of this circular.

      i.        All Motor Insurance policies

    ii.        Fire Insurance policies covering Dwellings and/or contents thereof issued to individuals

   iii.        All package insurance policies issued to individuals (e.g. package policies for Dwellings)

   iv.        All Miscellaneous policies issued to individuals where the Sum Insured does not exceed Rs. 5 Crore.

3. Issue of electronic policies: The above exemption for issue of electronic policies is granted subject to the following:

      i.        Insurers shall send the policy document and a copy of the proposal form through digital/electronic mode. The documents shall be sent to the registered e-mail id or mobile number provided by the customer only on the specific consent provided by the policyholder.

    ii.        Simultaneously the policyholders shall be informed through SMS that policy document /copy of the proposal form have been sent to their e-mail id or any other digital / electronic mode (as may be the case).

   iii.        Insurers shall put in place proper mechanism to ensure that the documents are delivered to the designated e-mail Id / mobile number of the policyholder and an acknowledgement is appropriately obtained / auto-collected on delivery.

   iv.        When documents are forwarded by electronic means, the record of policyholder having received the document or the electronic platform having delivered the documents shall be maintained systematically. It shall be clearly informed to the policyholder that the date of delivery of the document is reckoned for the purpose of examining free-look requests, wherever applicable.

    v.        Insurers shall preserve the records of such acknowledgements for further reference.

   vi.        The policy document sent electronically shall contain all the schedules, terms and conditions, benefits etc that are otherwise available in the physical document.

  vii.        Policyholders shall be also informed that printing of physical policy document and dispatch of the same along with the copy of proposal form may be delayed due to operational difficulties in the wake of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic situation.

viii.        Policyholders shall be informed that the policy document sent electronically is as valid as the physical policy contract / document.

   ix.        Wherever policyholders demand the physical version of the policy document /copy of the proposal, the same shall be made available.

    x.        Wherever it is not possible to send the policy documents through electronic means due to any reason, insurers shall necessarily forward the physical documents to the policyholders.

4. Dispensing of Wet Signature on Proposal Form: With regard to the requirement under Regulation 8 (1) of IRDAI (Protection of Policyholders’ Interests) Regulations, 2017 in respect of proposal forms, Insurers are hereby allowed to obtain the customer’s consent without requiring wet signature on the hard copy of the proposal form subject to following:

      i.        The completed proposal form shall be sent to the prospect on his/ her registered e-mail ID or mobile number by means of a message with a link, as the case may be.

    ii.        If the proposer wishes to give consent to the proposal, the same may be permitted by providing a link for confirmation or through One Time Password (OTP) duly validated.

   iii.        Insurers shall maintain verifiable, legally valid evidence for the proposer’s consent received for the fully completed proposal form.

   iv.        Insurers shall be responsible for the following:

a)    Providing approved digital sales material to insurance agents/intermediaries and ensure that only that material is used while soliciting the business;

b)    Authenticating the e-mail IDs / mobile numbers of the proposers including through de-duplication of the data and such other means;

c)    Ensuring the suitability of the product being sold

5.  The exemptions granted herein shall be valid till 31.03.2021.


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