Bihar govt seeks more time from Patna HC to submit status report on quarantine centres
Earlier on May 13, the court had sought the state government’s response about the status of Covid-19 quarantine centres after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by Rajeev Ranjan of Sonepur in Saran district.Updated: May 22, 2020 19:46 IST
Bihar government on Friday sought more time from the Patna high court (HC) to submit its status report on the quarantine facilities in the state for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients. The court has fixed June 2 as the next date of hearing on the matter.
Earlier on May 13, the court had sought the state government’s response about the status of Covid-19 quarantine centres after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by Rajeev Ranjan of Sonepur in Saran district.
The PIL had prayed to the court to give direction to the state government for better living conditions in the quarantine centres that have been set up to lodge migrant workers returning to the state from other parts of the country amid the easing of lockdown restrictions. The plea had cited the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to bolster its argument.
Advocate General Lalit Kishor, who appeared on behalf of the state government, told a two-judge HC bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S Kumar, that more time would be required to submit the status report.
The petitioner had drawn the court’s attention to the media reports, viral videos and several instances of migrant workers fleeing from the quarantine centres because of unhygienic living conditions and inedible food.
“The state will face dire consequences if migrant workers are not kept in properly maintained quarantine centres, as many of them are coming back from worst-hit Covid-19 states such as Maharashtra and Gujarat,” said the petitioner, seeking direction to the government to ramp up the test count for the viral outbreak because of the influx of migrant returnees.
Though the state government has announced all the facilities are available at the quarantine centres, many are not complying with the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
A senior leader of the ruling Janata Dal (United) said that party workers had drawn Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s attention to the growing inadequacies at the quarantine centres. The opposition parties, too, have been vocal about it.
The issue has struck a political chord, as assembly polls will be held in Bihar later this year. Viral videos of poor facilities at the quarantine centres have become a rage on social media, much to the embarrassment of the state government.
“The state government is claiming that it is on a spending spree for the welfare of migrants, but if the benefits are not reaching the intended beneficiaries then it serves no purpose. The headcount of migrant returnees will be a futile exercise. We’ll face people’s wrath if the rot is not arrested at the earliest. The CM has assured that he would carry out a review of the quarantine centres soon,” said a senior JD(U) leader.
The data from the state disaster management department (DMD) showed that around 7.5 lakh migrant returnees are staying at the quarantine centres that are functional at the block level of 38 districts in Bihar.
Around 2.8 lakh migrants will return to the state over the next two days by 169 Shramik Special trains, posing a big challenge for the state government.
So far, 638 trains have brought back around seven lakh migrants to the state.