In a big relief to customers of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, MTNL and BSNL—primary telecom operators, have decided to extend validity on prepaid plans for majority of their users as well as credited talk time of Rs 10 in these accounts.

This announcement comes after the sector regulator TRAI on Sunday asked the telecom operators to extend the validity period of prepaid users to ensure that subscribers get uninterrupted services during the 21-day nationwide lockdown.

TRAI has also sought details of the steps taken to ensure availability of uninterrupted telecom services to such customers on a “priority basis”.

Vodafone Idea on Tuesday announced extend of validity on prepaid plans availed by low income customers using feature phones till April 17, and Rs 10 talktime credit in the account of nearly 100 million feature phone users to help them stay connected during the lockdown period.

“The unprecedented situation arising from the outbreak of COVID-19 has created several hardships, especially for low income, prepaid customers using feature phones. To ensure that such customers remain connected amidst these troubled times, Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL)…today announced extension in validity of its prepaid plans, availed by low income customers using feature phones, till 17th April 2020,” VIL said in a statement.

In a similar move, Bharti Airtel on Monday announced that it is extending the validity period of more than 8 crore pre-paid connections until April 17 as well as credited talk time of Rs 10 in these accounts.

“Airtel has extended the pre-paid pack validity for over 80 million customers till April 17, 2020. All these customers will continue to get incoming calls on their Airtel mobile numbers even after the validity of their plan is exhausted,” Airtel said in a statement.

The company added that the benefits will be available to the targeted users in next 48 hours.

“Airtel will also credit an additional Rs 10 of talk time in the pre-paid accounts of all these 80 million customers to enable them to make calls or send SMS and therefore stay connected with their loved ones,” the statement added.

State-run BSNL and MTNL have also extended the validity period of their prepaid mobile services till April 20. Keeping the poor people in mind, the government has also decided to extend an additional talktime of ₹10 to enable outgoing calls.

“The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has decided that prepaid SIMs will not be discontinued till April 20. For outgoing calls, a ₹10 incentive has been provided automatically from today so that the poor and the needy people continue to work,” Minister for Electronics & IT, Communications and Law & Justice Prasad told ANI.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 had announced a complete lockdown of the entire country for 21 days in an unprecedented move to halt the spread of coronavirus, shortly after which the Centre said road, rail and air services will remain suspended during this period.

As on Tuesday morning, the pandemic had claimed 32 lives in the country and number of COVID-19 cases has crossed 1250 in India.