The Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra government on Tuesday to file a reply stating why civil defence centres were not yet set up in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts that are vulnerable to natural calamities.
The court noted that Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg witnessed several natural calamities in the recent past and had such centre's been already set up and functional there, better and more timely rescue services could have been provided to citizens.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni directed the Maharashtra home department's secretary to file the reply within 10 days.
The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a former officer of the state revenue department.
As per the PIL, six districts, including Sindhdurg and Ratnagiri, were declared as 'multi-hazardous areas' by the state authorities in 2011 and directions were issued to set up civil defence centres in six coastal districts, including Mumbai, Thane and Raigad.
The centres, to be constituted under the Civil Defence Act, 1968, are supposed to provide assistance and protection to individuals and properties against any hostile attack or natural calamities. Such calamities include cyclones, earthquake, flooding, fire and explosion, among others.
The protection services provided under the Act include rescue and relief operations.
While such centres were eventually set up in Mumbai, Raigad, Palghar, and Thane, they are yet to be established in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg, the petitioner's advocate, Rakesh Bhatkar, told the HC.
"What is the purpose of the Act if the centres are yet to be set up in some of the most vulnerable districts?" the HC asked the state government.
"We want your secretary (state home department) to tell us why these centres have not been set up in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg, and also what does the state propose to do about setting them up," the court said.
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