Mumbai: A day after Supreme Court Justice praised the efficacy of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in handling COVID-19 cases, the Bombay High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni on Thursday appreciated the "Mumbai Model" of the BMC and suggested municipal commissioners of other districts in the state to use this model.
The judges have also ordered the Maharashtra government to consider imposing a total lockdown in Pune city given the "alarming" numbers of Covid cases there. The bench has ordered BMC chief Iqbal Chahal to conduct a video meeting with the municipal commissioners of other districts and guide them on how to manage patients and control the pandemic.
The judges after perusing a district-wise chart of Covid cases, noted that Pune has double the numbers than Mumbai. It noted that Pune has around 1.14 lakh cases while Mumbai has around 86 thousand cases.
The bench suggested advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to advise the Maharashtra government to impose a strict lockdown in districts with higher cases. "From the numbers, it appears that cities like Pune, Nashik etc have high numbers. Especially in Pune, the cases are double than that of Mumbai," Justice Kulkarni pointed out.
At this, advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni explained that patients from other districts migrate to Pune for better facilities and thus the numbers have been higher since the second wave.
"Situation in Pune is alarming. It has double the cases than Mumbai. Can the civic chief of Pune be connected to Mumbai commissioner and take his guidance?" CJ Datta said.
"If cases can be controlled in Bombay, Pune too can follow the Mumbai Model. In fact not only Pune even Thane, Nashik etc can follow the Mumbai Model," the chief justice added.
The bench further noted as on date there are over 12,000 vacant beds in Mumbai across Covid centers and dedicated Covid hospitals. It suggested that patients from nearby municipal corporations like Thane, Vasai-Virar, Mira-Bhayander etc can be given these beds and other facilities.
"In fact, let Iqbal Chahal, the BMC commissioner conduct a video conference meet with other civic corporations. Let him tell them whatever is available in Mumbai and how can patients be managed. Also, he can guide others and tell them what model he has followed and how they can use it in their corporations," CJ Datta ordered.
The chief justice, however, clarified that he wasn't "disrespecting" the commissioners of other civic bodies. "We have no doubt that all are responsible IAS officers. Just that it is a matter of death and life of patients. When one officer has worked better why can't his model be replicated at all districts and followed by other officers," the chief justice clarified.
Impose Lockdown in Pune
During the hearing, the bench suggested AG Kumbhakoni to impose a lockdown in Pune.
"Mr Advocate General when this is the situation in Pune why don't you advise your government to impose a total lockdown there. We don't want lockdown-like restrictions. We are speaking of a proper total lockdown like last year," the chief justice ordered.
At this, AG Kumbhakoni told the bench that people in Pune aren't wearing masks and not even following Covid norms properly. "They don't even wear a helmet forget the mask," the AG said further urging the bench to issue an order for lockdown in Pune.
To this, CJ Datta replied, "We don't want to cross our boundaries. We are aware of the orders passed by the Allahabad HC for lockdown in five cities and the SC quashed it later."