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Friday, June 25, 2021

Delhi HC refuses calling in armed forces: ‘Covid spread would paralyse them from doing their primary job’

“It (spread of coronavirus) could completely paralyse them from doing their real job that they are required to do, and we should not forget it has not been even a year since the time that we have had a problem,” said the court.

Written by Sofi Ahsan | New Delhi |
Updated: May 7, 2021 4:28:47 pm
Health workers inspect COVID-19 patients undergoing treatment at Shehnai Banquet Hall, converted into an isolation centre, amid a surge in coronavirus cases in New Delhi.

WHILE rejecting a submission against Centre’s refusal to accede to Delhi government’s request for setting up of field hospitals by Army in the national capital, the Delhi High Court on Friday said that the armed forces would have to remain in readiness to first discharge the duty for which they have been raised, and it does not want the coronavirus to spread like “wildfire” among the armed forces.

The division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said that it is a good thought that all have trust in the armed forces but there would be unimaginable problems if the virus spreads among the armed forces. The court also said the personnel of armed forces live together in cantonment areas and barracks.

“It (spread of coronavirus) could completely paralyse them from doing their real job that they are required to do, and we should not forget it has not been even a year since the time that we have had a problem,” said the court.

A lawyer before the court earlier referred to the news reports that the Army was rushing medical personnel from different parts of the country to assist the Bihar government during the pandemic. “If they have the operational readiness to do it in Bihar, I do not know what was the reason to not do in Delhi,” said advocate Aditya Prasad.

However, the court said there could be logistics issues and the Ministry of Defence has already said the forces are doing enough in Delhi. Let us not go into controversies, it told Prasad.

“Armies have to be in readiness to first discharge the duty that they have been raised for. We cannot have any compromise on that. Let us not beyond a point press on that,” said the court, adding a lot of personnel and their families have already got affected.

The Centre on Wednesday had told the court that the Ministry of Defence has decided against bringing the Army to set up field hospitals in the national capital as the armed forces resources across the country are stretched in these times and that they are providing “as much as help possible” without compromising their operational readiness.

Delhi’s Deputy CM Manish Sisodia had earlier written to the Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to lend services of the Armed forces to the state to help it set up, operationalise and run Covid health facilities with about 10,000 oxygen and 1,000 ICU beds.

The Centre had told the court that the forces are running three major hospitals in Delhi with two of them dedicated to COVID. A total of 8,791 patients have been treated at Base Hospital and 950 at the DRD0 facility, it had been told. The court was also told that efforts are underway to add another 395 beds at base hospital by May 30. Centre had said armed forces assistance can be provided in transportation of oxygen cylinders, airlifting of empty oxygen containers and transportation of filled oxygen containers from industrial units.

On Friday, the Centre told the court that a nodal officer has been nominated to coordinate with the Delhi government to make available services of personnel of Corps of Engineers, ASC and EMC of the forces to assist the civil administration. The court was also told that another nodal officer has been nominated to coordinate with the Delhi government with regard to installation of cryogenic storage tanks and their transportation in the national capital.

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