Observing that “in such an emergent, some anomalies can and will take place”, the Delhi High Court has appealed that “in the current circumstances when the State is struggling to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, it is the need of the hour that all hands are on the deck.”
“We are conscious of the fact that both, the Centre and the State governments, are doing their best to provide food, dry ration and other essential items to people in need, particularly the migrant and daily wage workers, who are going through a tough time due to the imposition of the lockdown,” a bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad observed.
It said, “But there are limitations on the resources available to the Govt. of NCT of Delhi and given the warlike situation existing on ground, the extraordinary efforts being made by all the agencies both, at the Centre and the State, must be acknowledged.”
The court’s observation came during hearing of a PIL by an NGO – National Campaign Committee For Eradication Of Bonded Labour India News Communications Ltd – seeking the supply of cooked food through kitchens and dry ration to migrants and daily wage labourers at camps in Delhi.
Through their counsel, Neha Mukherjee, the NGO specifically sought direction for the migrant and daily wage labourers residing at – Bhagirathi Vihar in northeast Delhi, Bhatt Camp Slum Colony in Badarpur, Gola Kaun at Okhla Phase-1, Yogshala Camp Industrial Area, situated at D-Block, Okhla Phase-1, Nala Road at Johripur in northeast Delhi, Outramline of north Delhi and Sanshi Camp in Badarpur, South East Delhi.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, Additional Standing Counsel Sanjoy Ghose and advocate Urvi Mohan, appearing for the Delhi government, submitted that necessary steps for supplying cooked food and dry ration have already been taken by them.
“Inasmuch as 400 food kitchens have been set up in schools and Community centres across Delhi where from cooked food is being provided to the needy,” the ASG said, adding that as on April 20, about 3.54 crore units of cooked meals have been provided to the needy, including migrants and daily wage labour.”
He further submitted that mobile vans have also been arranged to deliver food at various camps and locations, depending on the requirements, on a day-to-day basis.
Regarding the supply of dry ration to migrants and daily wage labourers, the ASG submitted that the Delhi government has decided that “over one crore people who have been adversely hit by the extended lockdown, will be given free ration and only yesterday, it has been decided to issue 2000 food coupons to each MLA and MP of Delhi, totalling to 1,54,000 coupons (77×2000), for distribution of dry ration in their constituencies to the needy who do not possess any identity documents…”.
The bench suggested of appointing a nodal officer for the labour camps. The ASG agreed to it and said that the nodal officers names and mobile numbers for each of the clusters, shall be conveyed.