Updated: September 1, 2021 7:58:23 am
The Bombay High Court pulled up the Maharashtra government Tuesday and asked it to respond within ten days as to why it has not yet set up civil defence centres in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts which are prone to natural calamities.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a PIL filed by Sharad Raul, a 65-year-old retired revenue official from Ratnagiri seeking the establishment of civil defence centres in the two districts.
The court observed that both districts had witnessed several natural calamities in the recent past and that “better and more timely rescue services” could have been provided to the citizens if the centres had been functional.
The PIL, filed through advocate Rakesh Bhatkar said six districts were declared ‘multi hazardous areas’ in 2011 and directions were issued to set up civil defence centres in these coastal districts.
While the centres have already come up in Mumbai, Raigad, Palghar and Thane, they have not yet been established in Ratnagiri or Sindhudurg, the petitioner said, adding that his representation submitted in April 2018 elicited no response from the authorities which prompted him to move the high court.
“What is the purpose of the law if the centres are yet to be set up in some of the most vulnerable districts?” advocate Bhatkar asked and sought an expedited decision on the matter.
As per the plea, the centres which are to be set up under the Civil Defence Act, 1968, would provide assistance and protection to individuals and properties against any ‘hostile attack’ or natural calamities such as cyclones, earthquake, flooding, fire or explosion, among others.
Directing the home secretary to file an affidavit in reply within ten days, the court said it will hear the PIL again in two weeks.
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