As of April 23, Delhi has 2,248 cases of COVID-19.  After Maharashtra and Gujarat, Delhi has the highest number of cases in the country.  On March 22, when the number of cases rose to 29, the Delhi government announced lockdown in the state until March 31, to contain the spread of COVID-19. This has been followed by a nation-wide lockdown by the central government between March 25 and May 3.  In this blog, we summarise some of the key measures taken by the state government in response to COVID-19 so far.


Before the lockdown

On March 8, with three cases of COVID-19 in the state, the Department of Health and Family Welfare decided to carry out an awareness drive at various crowded places during Holi.  Along with it, the government also took several other steps for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the state.  Some of these measures are summarised below.

Health Measures

Disinfecting the vehicles: On March 11 and 12, the government ordered to disinfect minibusesschool buses and school cabs daily.

The Delhi Epidemic Diseases, COVID-19 Regulations, 2020: On March 12, with six cases of COVID-19, the Delhi government notified The Delhi Epidemic Diseases, COVID-19 Regulations, 2020.  These regulations are valid for a year.  Key provisions include:

(i)  All government and private hospitals should have dedicated flu corners.

(ii) home quarantine for people who have travelled through the affected areas, and

(iii) Certain persons authorised under the Regulations, with the approval of the State Task Force, can take necessary measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, such as: (i) sealing a geographical area, (ii) restricting the movement of vehicles and people, and (iii) initiating active and passive surveillance of COVID-19 cases.

Movement Restrictions

Educational institutions: On March 12, the government ordered the closure of all educational institutions up to March 31.  The students writing examinations were allowed to attend them along with the staff.   However, on March 19, the government ordered the postponement of exams until March 31.

Public gatherings:

  • On March 13, the government issued an order prohibiting the gatherings of over 200 people such as seminars, conferences, and Indian Premier League cricket matches.   This was further restricted to 50 people on March 16, and to 20 people on March 19 when the number of cases rose to 12.
  • Between March 12 and March 16, the government ordered the closure of cinema hallspublic swimming poolsgyms, and night clubs until March 31.   On March 19 and 20, sports complexes and shopping malls were also ordered to be shut down. 

Restaurants and private establishments: On March 19, all restaurants were ordered to discontinue sitting arrangements until March 31.  Private establishments were ordered to allow their employees to work from home till March 31. 

Delhi-Kathmandu bus service: On March 20, the government suspended the Delhi-Kathmandu bus service, officially known as the Maitri Bus Sewa.

During the lockdown

On March 22, when the number of cases rose to 29, the Delhi government announced the lockdown in the state until March 31.  The lockdown involved: (i) suspending the public transport services, (ii) sealing borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, (iii) suspending all domestic and international flights arriving in Delhi, and (iv) banning the congregation of more than five persons at any public place.  This was followed by a nation-wide lockdown enforced by the central government between March 25 and April 14, now extended till May 3

Starting from April 20, the central government allowed certain activities in less-affected districts of the country.  However, the Delhi government, on April 19, announced that there will not be any relaxation in the lockdown in Delhi, until another comprehensive assessment which will be made on April 27.

Welfare Measures

The Delhi government announced several welfare measures to address the difficulties being faced by people during the lockdown.  Key measures include:

Night shelters: The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board is providing free meals to the homeless people staying in the night shelters.  On March 25, a hunger helpline was set up which directs the needy people to the nearest night shelter for food.

Hunger Relief Centers: On March 26, the government directed the District Magistrates to set up at least two hunger relief centres in every municipal ward for providing 500 meals twice (lunch and dinner) every day at each centre. 

Financial assistance: The government is providing one-time financial assistance of Rs 5,000 to drivers of vehicles such as autos, taxis, and e-rickshaws.

Compensation to family members: The Delhi government will be giving compensation of one crore rupees to the family members of the employees who may die due to COVID-19.

Health Measures

Additional manpower: On March 24, the government ordered the hospitals and institutions under the Department of Health and Family Welfare to engage up to 25% additional manpower in outsourced services such as sanitation, security, and nursing assistants. 

Wearing masks made compulsory: On April 8, the government made it compulsory for all people to wear masks in public places, offices, gatherings, meetings, and personal vehicles.

Identification of paid quarantine facilities: On April 13, the government ordered all district magistrates to identify paid quarantine facilities in their respective districts for housing the people who would like to use private facilities on payment basis.   

Creation of a multi-sectoral dedicated team: On April 13, the government ordered for the creation of the Corona Foot Warriors and Containment Team at every booth.  The government aims to enhance ground level intervention through them. 

Setting up Helpline: On April 17, the Department of Health and Family Welfare set up a dedicated 24x7 Whatsapp number for receiving complaints and requests from the people related to COVID-19.

Measures related to Media

The government took the following steps to control the spread of fake news related to COVID-19:

  • On April 1, the government ordered the Director, Directorate of Information and Publicity to regularly monitor the fake news across print and electronic media.  He was appointed as the nodal officer of Delhi’s fact check unit on April 3.    
  • On April 20, the Department of Health and Family Welfare ordered all government hospitals to create a media cell for monitoring the fake news about the functioning of hospitals on social and news media.

For more information on the spread of COVID-19 and the central and state government response to the pandemic, please see here.

The National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021 is listed for passage in Rajya Sabha today.  It was passed by Lok Sabha last week.  The Bill creates a regulatory framework for anti-doping rule violations in sports.  It was examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports, and some of their recommendations have been incorporated in the Bill passed by Lok Sabha.  

Doping is the consumption of certain prohibited substances by athletes to enhance performance.  Across the world, doping is regulated and monitored by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which is an independent international agency established in 1999.   WADA’s primary role is to develop, harmonise, and coordinate anti-doping regulations across all sports and countries.   It does so by ensuring proper implementation of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADA Code) and its standards.  In this blog post, we discuss the need of the framework proposed by the Bill, and give insights from the discussion on the Bill in Lok Sabha.  

Doping in India

Recently, two Indian athletes failed the doping test and are facing provisional suspension.   In the past also, Indian athletes have been found in violation of anti-doping rules.  In 2019, according to WADA, most of the doping rule violations were committed by athletes from Russia (19%), followed by Italy (18%), and India (17%).  Most of the doping rule violations were committed in bodybuilding (22%), followed by athletics (18%), cycling (14%), and weightlifting (13%).  In order to curb doping in sports, WADA requires all countries to have a framework regulating anti-doping activities managed by their respective National Anti-Doping Organisations.  

Currently, doping in India is regulated by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), which was established in 2009 as an autonomous body under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.  One issue with the existing framework is that the anti-doping rules are not backed by a legislation and are getting challenged in courts.  Further, NADA is imposing sanctions on athletes without a statutory backing.   Taking into account such instances, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2021) had recommended that the Department of Sports bring in an anti-doping legislation.   Other countries such as the USA, UK, Germany, and Japan have enacted legislations to regulate anti-doping activities.  

Framework proposed by the National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021

The Bill seeks to constitute NADA as a statutory body headed by a Director General appointed by the central government.  Functions of the Agency include planning, implementing and monitoring anti-doping activities, and investigating anti-doping rule violations.  A National Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel will be set up for determining consequences of anti-doping rule violations.  This panel will consist of legal experts, medical practitioners, and retired athletes.  Further, the Board will constitute an Appeal Panel to hear appeals against decisions of the Disciplinary Panel.  Athletes found in violation of anti-doping rules may be subject to: (i) disqualification of results including forfeiture of medals, points, and prizes, (ii) ineligibility to participate in a competition or event for a prescribed period, (iii) financial sanctions, and (iv) other consequences as may be prescribed.  Consequences for team sports will be specified by regulations.   

Initially, the Bill did not have provisions for protected athletes but after the Standing Committee’s recommendation, provisions for such athletes have been included in the Bill.  Protected persons will be specified by the central government.  As per the WADA Code, a protected person is someone: (i) below the age of 16, or (ii) below the age of 18 and has not participated in any international competition in an open category, or (iii) lacks legal capacity as per their country’s legal framework

Issues and discussion on the Bill in Lok Sabha

During the discussion on the Bill, members highlighted several issues.  We discuss these below-

Independence of NADA 

One of the issues highlighted was the independence of the Director General of NADA.  WADA requires National Doping Organisations to be independent in their functioning as they may experience external pressure from their governments and national sports bodies which could compromise their decisions.  First, under the Bill, the qualifications of the Director General are not specified and are left to be notified through Rules.  Second, the central government may remove the Director General from the office on grounds of misbehaviour or incapacity or “such other ground”.  Leaving these provisions to the discretion of the central government may affect the independence of NADA. 

Privacy of athletes

NADA will have the power to collect certain personal data of athletes such as: (a) sex or gender, (ii) medical history, and (iii) whereabout information of athletes (for out of competition testing and collection of samples).  MPs expressed concerns about maintaining the privacy of athletes.  The Union Sports Minister in his response, assured the House that all international privacy standards will be followed during collection and sharing of data.  Data will be shared with only relevant authorities.

Under the Bill, NADA will collect and use personal data of athletes in accordance with the International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information.   It is one of the eight ‘mandatory’ standards of the World Anti-Doping Code.  One of the amendments moved by the Union Sports Minister removed the provision relating to compliance with the International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information.

Establishing more testing laboratories across states

Currently India has one National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL).  MPs raised the demand to establish testing laboratories across states to increase testing capacity.  The Minister responded by saying that if required in the future, the government will establish more testing laboratories across states.  Further, in order to increase testing capacity, private labs may also be set up.   The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2022) also emphasised the need to open more dope testing laboratories, preferably one in each state, to cater to the need of the country and become a leader in the South East Asia region in the areas of anti-doping science and education.

In August, 2019 a six-month suspension was imposed on NDTL for not complying with International Standard for Laboratories (ISL) by WADA.  The suspension was extended for another six months in July, 2020 due to non-conformity with ISL.  The second suspension was to remain in effect until the Laboratory complies with ISL.  However, the suspension was extended for another six months in January, 2021 as COVID-19 impacted WADA’s ability to conduct an on-site assessment of the Laboratory.  In December, 2021 WADA reinstated the accreditation of NDTL.

Raising awareness 

Several athletes in India are not aware about the anti-doping rules and the prohibited substances.  Due to lack of awareness, they end up consuming prohibited substances through supplements.  MPs highlighted the need to conduct more awareness campaigns around anti-doping.  The Minister informed the House that in the past one year, NADA has conducted about 100 hybrid workshops relating to awareness on anti-doping.   The Bill will enable NADA to conduct more awareness campaigns and research in anti-doping.  Further, the central government is working with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to test dietary supplements consumed by athletes.  

While examining the Bill, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2022) recommended several measures to improve and strengthen the antidoping ecosystem in the country.  These measures include: (i) enforcing regulatory action towards labelling and use of ‘dope-free’ certified supplements, and (ii) mandating ‘dope-free’ certification by independent bodies for supplements consumed by athletes.