The Bombay High Court on Tuesday allowed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to make preparations and arrangements to use buildings for Project Affected Persons (PAPs) as quarantine centres for contacts of coronavirus-afflicted patients from M-West ward of the city.
The court, however, said it will consider the civic body’s plea for permission to use the buildings at Eversmile Complex in Mahul as and when the actual need arises.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice S S Shinde on Tuesday was hearing, through video-conference, BMC’s interim application in a PIL filed by NGO Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan and Sharda Tevar, mother of an undertrial lodged at the Arthur Road Jail since November 2019 pending trial.
The plea, filed through advocate Ronita Bhattacharya-Bector, had said Mahul is unsuitable to quarantine Covid-19 patients as the area is heavily polluted due to the presence of industries. The state was reportedly planning to shift 77 inmates of Arthur Road Jail, who had tested positive, to a government-run quarantine facility in Mahul.
Last month, the HC had directed the state government and BMC not to set up Covid-19 quarantine facility in Mahul without its permission. In view of this, BMC moved an application seeking the modification of the order, to use buildings at the rehabilitation colony for quarantine purposes.
Senior Counsel Anil Sakhare, representing BMC, on Tuesday said the number of positive cases of coronavirus was likely to go up to nearly 3,000 in M-West ward where Mahul is situated, and the BMC might require to arrange a quarantine facility for nearly 30,000 contacts of patients. BMC also submitted that it will use the buildings only as a last resort, but will need them to make necessary arrangements. Advocate Bector opposed the BMC’s plea and said the buildings had no ventilation and sunlight.
On Tuesday, the bench said “The only order that is required to be passed at the moment is to permit the applicant to take such measures as are required to make the tenements habitable, if in case the prevailing situation in future worsens and the tenements at Mahul are urgently required for use thereof as quarantine centres. Such limited permission is granted.”
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