NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday said the COVID-19 situation is "especially serious" in Mumbai, Pune, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata and a few other places in West Bengal, and violation of lockdown measures risk the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In a communication to state governments and union territories, the home ministry said there have been several incidents of violence against COVID-19 frontline healthcare professionals, a complete violation of social distancing norms and movement of vehicles in urban areas.
These should be stopped, it said.
The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 543 and the number of cases climbed to 17,265 in the country on Monday, according to the Union health ministry.
The situation is "especially serious" in Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai and Pune in Maharashtra, Jaipur in Rajasthan, and Kolkata, Howrah, East Medinipur, North 24 Parganas, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, the ministry said.
"Violation of lockdown measures reported, posing a serious health hazard to public and risk for spread of COVID-19," it said.
The central government has constituted six Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs) to make on-spot assessment of the COVID-19 situation in these places and issue necessary directions to the four states -- Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and West Bengal -- for redressal.
The teams will submit their report to the central government in the larger interest of the general public, the ministry said.
"The IMCTs will focus on compliance and implementation of the lockdown measures as per guidelines, supply of essential commodities, social distancing, the preparedness of health infrastructure, the safety of health professionals and conditions of relief camps for labourers and poor people," a home ministry spokesperson said.
The lockdown was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 in a bid to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
It was further extended till May 3.
The Centre also asked states and union territories to strictly comply with the lockdown measures announced to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic and not to dilute them at any level.
Bhalla said some states and UTs are issuing orders allowing activities which have not been allowed as per the guidelines issued by the home ministry under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
"I would again urge you to ensure compliance of the revised consolidated guidelines, and direct all authorities concerned for their strict implementation in letter and spirit without any dilution and to ensure strict compliance of lockdown measures," he said.
The consolidated revised guidelines on the measures to be taken by central ministries and departments, and state and Union Territory governments were issued on April 15 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the extension of the nationwide lockdown till May 3.
The lockdown was earlier from March 25 to April 14.
The home ministry has sought strict implementation of the guidelines in all parts of the country to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The home secretary also drew the attention of the chief secretaries to the guidelines which categorically say that state and Union Territory governments will not dilute them in any manner and strictly enforce the same.
They can, however, impose stricter measures than the guidelines as per the requirement of local areas.
Bhalla also pointed out to a recent Supreme Court observation that all state governments, public authorities and citizens will faithfully comply with the directives and orders issued by the Union of India in letter and spirit in the interest of public safety.
The observations, which must be treated as the directions of the apex court, was conveyed in "my letter dated April 1 to all states and UTs (union territories)", he said.