PATNA: Amid surging coronavirus cases, the Bihar government on Wednesday came out with more stringent restrictions, ordering closure of shops/commercial establishments at 4 pm daily while the timing of the night curfew will now be from 6 pm to 6 am.
Presently, the timing for shops/commercial establishments functioning was till 6 pm and night curfew was in force from 9 pm to 5 am.
These decisions were taken at the meeting of the crisis management group chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during the day after taking stock of the situation.
Considering the continous rise in infections, the chief minister held high-level meeting consecutively on Monday and Tuesday before going for more curbs to rein in the rampaging coronavirus.
Development Commissioner Amir Subhani and Principal Secretary Health Pratyaya Amrit briefed media persons about the revised decisions.
Bihar added 13,374 more coronavirus cases Wednesday, taking the tally to 4,41,375.
While with 84 fresh fatalities the death toll has risen to 2391.
Capital Patna is the worst-hit both in terms of daily caseload and the deaths.
The state has 98,747 active cases at present.
Amrit told reporters that congregation at the marriage functions has been lowered to 50 persons from 100 now and for the last rites it will be 20 in place of 25.
Marriage parties shall be allowed to wind up by 10 pm, after which such gatherings will fall under the purview of prohibitory orders.
DJ is not permitted in the marriage functions.
There have been several auspicious dates for marriage in the ongoing April and coming month of May.
Government and private offices will be encouraged to adopt "work from home" in a big way and workplaces will also not be allowed to remain open beyond 4 pm.
Medicine shops will be allowed to remain operational during the night curfew and restaurants will be permitted to engage in take away deliveries till 9 pm.
The fresh restrictions will remain in force till May 15 when the situation will be reviewed afresh and further decisions will be taken.
Public tranport can operate with 50 per cent sitting capacity.
Industrial units, construction work, e-commerce related jobs, health institutions, vegetables and fruits vendors and agri and related work have been kept out of the ambit of the restrictions.
Subhani said the state government will meet the cost of conduct of last rites of COVID victims and also those testing negative but having symptoms of the deadly virus.
He further said that in order to increase strength of the doctors and paramedics, walk-in interview will be held for recruitment for one year time.
He said there is no limit on numbers for the recruitment and it will be done "as per the need".
Subhani said policemen returning from poll duties in West Bengal and other states will be subjected to COVID test.
He said instruction has been given to further ramp up test of samples and make healthcare arrangements more robust in the state.
He said district administrations have been told to hire Ambulances for convenience of people.
Meanwhile, the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC), which is providing cremation of COVID-19 victims for free, has fixed rates for the last rites of those who did not die of the contagion at three crematoriums here, under its jurisdiction, to help their families escape extortion given the huge rush at the burning ghats, a senior officer of the civic body said on Wednesday.
As per the order, the charge for the cremation of those who did not die of COVID-19 has been fixed at Rs 1,500 for electric cremation and Rs 4,900 for pyre cremation.
"The rates include end-to-end expenditure, right from the transportation of the body in an ambulance from the home and completion of all rituals at the burning ghat," Municipal Commissioner Himanshu Sharma told PTI.
He said the corporation has entered into an understanding with an NGO "Bhamasah Foundation" for the purpose.
The PMC will keep a close watch and will take the NGO to task in case of any complaint in this regard.
There are three crematoriums under the PMC- Bans ghat, Gulbi ghat, and the third one at Khajekalan-on the banks of the Ganga.
The fixation of rates for cremation has come at a time when grieving families of the deceased are facing harrowing time while performing the last rites of their dear ones.
Given the rush of bodies, including many COVID-19 victims, the affected families were facing painful experiences during cremation shelling out as high as Rs 15,000, much more than the fixed charge of Rs 300.
Sources in the three ghats said that in the last three days, around 60-70 COVID-19 victims were cremated at the three facilities.
A little more than this number, who had died of other reasons, were also cremated.
The commissioner said that the fixation of cost includes everything right from the transportation of the body from home to expenditure on the shroud, milk, ghee, agarbatti, and other items required in the performance of the last rites as well as payment to the priest, dom raja, and barber.
The second surge of coronavirus has wreaked havoc in Bihar, with Patna being the worst-hit witnessing the maximum number of daily cases and casualties.
As per the last medical bulletin, out of 12,604 new coronavirus cases across Bihar Tuesday, Patna accounted for 1,837.
The state capital reported 22 fatalities out of the 85 fresh deaths.
For COVID-19 victims, the Patna municipal corporation is providing free cremation.