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Coronavirus scare: Delhi High Court building to use fans instead of its centralised AC system

"If any COVID-19 infected person enters the area having central air-conditioning, there is still every likelihood that the particles of such virus, exhaled by such person, may remain airborne and may, in turn, infect others," said the four-judge committee.

Written by Pritam Pal Singh | New Delhi | Updated: May 1, 2020 4:00:49 pm
coronavirus scare, delhi high court, centrally ac, fans in delhi high court, spread of coronavirus, indian express The bench observed, “in the meantime, normal fans and ventilations and other measures will be taken into use by High Court…”.

The Delhi High Court Friday directed not to use their centralised air-conditioning (AC) system for its building for time being and ordered switching to fans, as there is no mathematical solution of problems to use of such facilities.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar was concerned over the usage of AC after a committee of its four judges placed their minutes of meetings before it.

In the minutes meeting of the committee, the PWD officials gave their input: “Even if this court incurs massive expenditure on procuring and installing Ultra Violet Germicide Irradiation (UVGI) devices, there would not be complete certainty of eradication of all the virus, germs and particles including COVID-19.”

The committee in their video-conferencing meeting held on April 28, which was also attended by seven others, including the PWD Chief Engineer and Junior Engineer, apprised them that “UVGI can only disinfect the air received in AHU (air handling unit) for re-circulation and if any COVID-19 infected person enters the area having central air-conditioning, there is still every likelihood that the particles of such virus, exhaled by such person, may remain airborne and may, in turn, infect others.

“It has been informed by them (PWD) that even in the Supreme Court, the Central Air-conditioning System has not been switched on so far and, therefore, they suggest that instead of investing huge amount in procuring these devices, whose utility is still not amply clear, the court may rather procure sufficient quantity of pedestal fans/wall fans and install them at appropriate places in all the Blocks,” the minutes of meeting recorded.

Delhi High Court’s Standing Counsel Sanjoy Ghose contended that the PWD has not approved of using centralised AC at this juncture. He further contended that even an inspection is likely to take place on Monday, to find out whether previously installed hooks, meant for ceiling fans, are still available so that wherever possible, even ceiling fans can be re-installed.

The bench observed, “in the meantime, normal fans and ventilations and other measures will be taken into use by High Court…”.

The bench, thereafter, disposed of the plea by advocate K C Mittal, seeking directions to ensure that no centrally air-conditioned facilities in the national capital, including the one in High Court and the District Courts, is put to use without adequate measures and precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The application by Mittal was filed in pending batch of air pollution issue before it.

The bench said that the High Court on its administration side is looking in to the issue.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Acharya, Central Government Standing Counsel Ajay Digpaul and advocate Viplab Acharya, appearing for the Centre and CPWD, conceded that there are widespread concerns that COVID_19 virus may spread through operation of ACs, coolers and fans.

The CPWD also filed their status report in the High Court and said that there are guidelines issued by the premier central government authority for “Air Conditioning and Ventilation”.

“Now these guidelines are to be implemented by various field offices of CPWD which are maintaining central government work spaces throughout the country to prevent any contamination by air circulation within the work spaces manned by various Central government officers and staff,” the CPWD status report said.

Meanwhile, the Delhi High Committee, is also in the process of equipment, for disinfecting the files, books, walls and other surfaces.

The committee was also informed by Registrar, General Administration, Ramesh Chand that one sanitisation machine, which takes body temperature and also dispenses sanitisation liquid in contactless manner will be received soon.

“Let it be installed at the main entrance of the A Block and report about the installation be submitted. This committee resolves that these devices i.e. handitrons and contactless sanitising dispensation machine be also procured by the District Courts. All the District and Sessions Judges be informed in this regard,” the minutes of meetings recorded.

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