When several Gurudwaras as volunteers can help citizens with essentials like oxygen and even beds within hours why can't the state provide such facilities at this speed to Covid-19 patients, questioned the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Saturday. The HC in a special sitting on a holiday (Maharashtra day), sought to know from the Maharashtra government and the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) as to why they haven't come up with a control room to monitor overall handling of the Covid crisis in the district.
A bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and Avinash Gharote was irked to know that despite a specific directive in an earlier hearing the authorities hadn't formed a control room.
The judges had in an earlier hearing had asked the authorities to form a control room comprising of at least 15 officials including some experts like doctors etc, which would monitor the continuous supply and distribution of essentials like Remdesivir, Tocilizumab and oxygen. This control room the bench had said would also oversee the admissions and availability of beds so as to ensure the kin of Covid patients aren't forced to run from pillar to post.
"Why isn't the control room formed yet? Our intention was that if any hospital has any grievance it would directly call the control room for any supply of essentials and then this team would ensure help is reached within hours after coordinating with the ground level officials," the bench explained.
The state counsel told the judges that soon a control room would be made but there is a difficulty for appointing officials as few are quarantined and some are on the field.
"Why can't you (state) requisition officials of revenue department or even government school/college heads? Most of these are sitting at home idle. Take their help since you have ample powers, we need not explain that to you," the bench opined.
The judges further stressed that if the state requisitions other officials then it must make them understand that their "task would be serious and they have to work sincerely and honestly."
During the hearing the bench sought to know if its orders passed on Friday asking authorities to ensure 15,000 vials of Remdesivir have reached Nagpur and Vidharbha region.
However, the state counsel had no idea whether the vials have reached Nagpur or are in transit (being transported).
Irked over this, Justice Shukre said, "We have already indicated in our earlier orders that if our orders aren't complied with, we will take coercive action of Contempt of Court."
The judges were further irked after they were informed that their suggestions to do away with the tender process for procuring Remdesivir weren't communicated to the concerned authorities.
Justice Gharote said, "Does it take so much time? When the issue is of public interest the state sits over it. All these affidavits are mere eyewash and a waste of time."
Justice Gharote lost cool after the NMC failed to give a proper breakdown of how it has used 600 beds. "Even the NMC isn't doing anything. We think a fresh audit will have to be ordered," the judge observed.
Further, Justice Shukre said, "You (state) are taking so much time to provide help to the citizens in these testing times. We have seen so many Gurudwaras providing oxygen and other essentials to Covid patients within hours."
"Why can't the state give all these facilities in time. Do not forget that we would fail in our duties if we don't help citizens and protect them," the judge added.