Centre, Delhi government “failed miserably”: High Court on migrant crisis


By LE Desk

New Delhi, April 19: Delhi High Court today said both Central and Delhi governments failed miserably to deal with the crisis of migrant workers during the nationwide lockdown last year and expressed its concerns on the Covid-related issues like oxygen shortage, and reverse migration of migrant labourers.

A Division Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli, who has re-initiated disposed of petitions on COVID-19 related issues, observed, “the virus has raised its ugly head once again and the pandemic is raging with much greater intensity.”

The Court said that with the imposition of curfew, the daily wagers are again faced with a ‘grim reality’ as there are reports about them returning to their native state again, NDTV reported.

Highlighting that the Centre and Delhi government failed miserably on the migrant labourers’ issue last time, the High Court said that the lesson should be taken from past lockdown and asked the Delhi government to use “Rs 3,000 crore lying in building fund” and also directed it to utilise the ‘service of midday meal contractors’.”

“Delhi Government counsel Rahul Mehra assured the Court that since this is a humanitarian crisis and money is always there with the government, and “his heart beats for the poor so they will do whatever is required”.

The Court also raised concern over the lack of oxygen in various place and some oxygen lying unutilised, NDTV said.

“..the situation is that oxygen is getting over in Ganga Ram..(and) not utilised in DRDO…, ” Delhi High Court noted.

Appearing for the Central government, advocate Monika Arora said she doesn’t have instructions and the hospital of DRDO was to start from today itself. She told the court that she will file an affidavit on instructions in this regard. Thereafter, the Court said that it will not pass any orders on this issue.

The Court also asked the government to examine the oxygen availability in different states and think about diverting oxygen to those areas where it is most required.

It directed the Centre to file an affidavit on augmenting the supply of drugs and capacity of beds and said that the aspect of increasing beds in Central government’s hospital should be considered.

Delhi Government Counsel told the Court that a company ‘Inox’ has stopped supplying oxygen to Delhi and diverted it to another state.

The Delhi High Court directed ‘Inox’ to honour its contract with the Delhi government and hospitals in the national capital and restore the supply of oxygen. It also asked the company to supply 140 metric tonne oxygen immediately to Delhi which shall, in turn, be supplied to needy hospitals in the city.

During the hearing, petitioner Rakesh Malhotra told the Court that most of the labs are not collecting samples for testing due to the Delhi government’s warning of strict action in case of delay in giving reports, according to NDTV.

The Court said that such warnings would only be counter-productive as the labs are under pressure due to a large number of testing and “no lab seem to do delay negligently or deliberately”.

The Court also expressed concern on the rise of coronavirus cases and said, “number of COVID positive patients being reported on a daily basis has exceeded 25 thousand in the national capital and 15-20 per cent of them would require hospitalisation.”

The High Court said that it is evident that the healthcare infrastructure is at the stage of ‘imminent collapse’.

After hearing a length, the Court adjourned the matter for tomorrow.


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