Stating that ‘need of the hour is to fight the disease and not the personnel involved in fighting the disease,’ the Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court that any restrictions imposed on movement of employees involved in essential services can lead to severe impediments in rendering medical services, those related to Covid-19 as well as those unrelated to the disease.
Ensuring unhindered movement of all such medical professionals is essential for meeting the public health requirements and saving precious lives, it said.
The state government was responding to a PIL, moved by Vasai businessman Charan Ravindra Bhatt, through advocate Uday Warunjikar, that stated that 47 people from the district, involved in essential services, have tested positive since they travel to hotspots in Mumbai. It is becoming the main cause for the spread of Covid-19 in Palghar, which has reported 136 cases and 10 deaths till May 1, the plea said, adding that the state should either provide them temporary accommodation in Mumbai or stop calling them for duty.
The government’s reply further stated, “It is necessary to point out that personnel who travel to Mumbai also follow required guidelines such as social distancing, use of masks, sanitisers etc to prevent themselves from getting infected. The need of the hour is to fight the disease and not the personnel involved in fighting the diseases.”
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice A A Sayed on May 15 asked the state to file a detailed reply by May 20 after government pleader Priyabhushan Kakade opposed the PIL.
On May 18, the state through Subhash Umaranikar, Deputy Secretary (Relief), Disaster Management department, filed an affidavit in reply to the PIL. It stated, “Given the sheer number of employees working in emergency services such as medical services, police, fire services, disaster management etc, who are living in suburbs of Mumbai including Virar, it is not practically possible to arrange for the accommodations of all the said persons in Mumbai, especially in current pandemic scenario. Making such an arrangement for employees will put more stress on already stressed machinery.”
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