The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) to file an affidavit listing details of the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), N-95 face masks, hand gloves, hand sanitizers provided to the essential services workers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes contract workers for solid waste management, road cleaning, and day to day transportation of garbage.
The Court also asked the civic body to disclose from which companies and at what prices the protective gears were purchased and how often they are replaced or replenished.
Justice S J Kathawalla passed the order on Tuesday on a petition filed by sanitation and health workers of the civic body, pointing out how thousands of them have been working each day in the lockdown without any protective gear. Moreover, it was submitted that the lackadaisical approach of authorities had led to few workers being tested positive for COVID-19 with over 24 persons placed under home quarantine and at quarantine facilities.
The writ plea filed by Samaj Samata Kamgar Sangh sought protective gear, a daily allowance of Rs 300 and insurance to nearly 6277 essential services workers including 3261 in solid waste management across 92 locations including road cleaning and day to day transportation of garbage.
About 693 workers employed in the health department across four hospitals in Navi Mumbai including those on urban health posts and cleaning duty, the plea stated. While the civic body is providing insurance of Rs 50 lakh to its workers who die of COVID-19, as well as daily allowance of Rs 300 to frontline workers, the same facilities should be offered to contract workers, the plea urged.
Advocates Bhavesh Parmar, Rahul Gaikwad, and Nikita Abhyankar for the petitioner union submitted, “Workers compelled to handle garbage and solid waste with bare hands and are not provided with any water to clean their hands and feet throughout the day. Despite the workers discharging essential services and have been regularly reporting to work, they are not provided with any protection from COVID-19 and are highly exposed to catching the deadly disease.”
Advocate Sandeep Marne for the municipal corporation stated that protective equipment is being provided from time to time to all workers and sought time to take instructions to inform the Court as to when the facilities were last provided.
After hearing submissions, the bench expressed concerns over the plight of workers and directed civic body to file a response to the plea setting out the number of protective equipment were there in possession prior to the announcement of lockdown and subsequent additions along with detailed breakup of distribution thereafter.
Directing authorities to submit the report of the visit of the deputy municipal commissioner, solid waste management to the attendance shades of the workers, the court posted further hearing on May 14.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines