Mumbai, May 15 (PTI) The Bombay High Court Friday directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) not to use the vacant resettlement buildings as quarantine centres for suspected COVID-19 patients without prior permission from the court.
These buildings, meant for rehabilitating people affected by the BMC's several development projects, have been declared uninhabitable by the high court and the National Green Tribunal owing to the large-scale pollution in the area.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Amjad Sayed restrained the civic body from using the premises for quarantine facilities without its nod after the BMC told the HC that it had decided that three vacant buildings at the Eversmile Complex, the Mahul Project Affected Persons' Colony, will be used as quarantine centres only as a 'last resort'.
The civic body submitted in an affidavit filed in the high court that as per its estimates, the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the M West ward, where Mahul is located, would rise to around 2,946 by May 30.
And since there already existed a shortage of designated quarantine centres, it had decided that if those from the ward, who need to be admitted to quarantine centres could not be accommodated anywhere else in the M-West ward, they would be taken to Mahul, the BMC submitted.
The bench was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Sharda Tevar, the mother of an undertrial at Arthur Road prison, and by an NGO Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan.
The petitioners, through advocate Ronita Bector, submitted that as per news reports, the state authorities was contemplating using some buildings in Mahul as quarantine facilities.
However, all buildings in the said area, built for rehabilitating those whose homes were affected due to the BMC's various development projects, have been considered uninhabitable by the Bombay HC and the NGT previously.
According to the petition, Mahul is a heavily industrialised belt and home to several major industrial units, including refineries of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers, and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre as well as private industrial units.
The high court on September 23, 2019 stopped project affected persons from being rehabilitated in these buildings.
'The proposed facility at Mahul would be utilised only as a last resort in the event that the number of cases rises and the number of high and low risk contacts persons that require to be quarantined cannot be kept on the other quarantine facilities made available in the vicinity,' BMC said in its reply.
However, the court said that said before the state government or BMC takes a decision to shift people to Mahul, they will be required to take the court's permission and will also have to submit all relevant data, advocate Bector said.
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