Maha opposes plea on essential service workers' accommodation

Mumbai, May 15 (PTI) The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Friday that it was 'impossible' to provide accommodation in Mumbai for all such persons engaged in essential services who commute to the metropolis from neighbouring Palghar district every day amid the lockdown for the coronavirus outbreak.

The state government pleader PP Kakade told the court that it was impractical to suggest that such essential service providers be given places to stay within the city.

He made the submission before a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice A A Sayed.

Kakde was responding on behalf of the state to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a Palghar resident seeking temporary accommodation in Mumbai for essential service providers who travel from Palghar.

The plea, filed earlier this week by Charan Ravindra Bhatt, claimed such commute to COVID-19 affected areas in Mumbai had resulted in several frontline workers testing positive for coronavirus.

The plea claimed frontline workers catching the virus from Mumbai and traveling back to their homes in Vasai-Virar had become one of the primary causes for the spread of coronavirus in Palghar district.

The situation is similar in areas such as Thane, Kalyan Dombivali, and Navi Mumbai too, the plea claimed.

Each day, state transport department buses make 129 trips to ferry such frontline workers between Vasai-Virar and Mumbai, the petition claimed.

'The PIL has sought that such frontline workers be provided temporary accommodation in Mumbai. Else, the state authorities be directed by HC to restrain those working in essential services to commute to Mumbai from nearby districts.

However, this is an impractical demand,' Kakade said.

'We (state), therefore, told the court that it would be impossible to provide temporary accommodation to so many people from nearby districts,' he said.

The bench, however, said merely making such an oral statement was not adequate and directed the state to file an affidavit detailing reasons why it could not provide such accommodation, said the petitioner's lawyer Uday Warunjikar.

Kakade said the state has been directed to file its affidavit by next week.

As per the petition, as on May 1 this year, Palghar district had 136 COVID-19 cases, and 10 people have died of the infection.

Currently there are 69 cases, of which 47 are health care workers, ward boys, nurses, paramedics and hotel staff and other frontline workers, who went to affected areas in Mumbai for their jobs, the plea claimed.

Therefore, if preventive measures were not taken immediately, more residents in the district would be at risk, the plea said. PTI AYA BNM BNM