Mumbai, May 19 (PTI) The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that it could not provide temporary accommodation in Mumbai to frontline workers who commuted to the metropolis from neighbouring Palghar district each day for work during the coronavirus outbreak and resultant lockdown.
In an affidavit filed on Tuesday through its Disaster Management, Relief and Rehabilitation department, the state said, considering the large number of such workers who commuted to and from the city every day, providing accommodation in Mumbai would add to the burden of the state machinery that is already being stretched thin due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
'Given the sheer number of employees working in emergency services such as medical care, fire department, police, disaster management etc, who live in the suburbs of Mumbai, including Virar, it is not practically possible for their accommodation in Mumbai, especially in the current COVID-19 scenario,' the affidavit reads.
'Making such an arrangement for these employees will add more stress to the already stressed machinery that is engaged in the fight against COVID-19,' it added.
On the previous hearing on May 15, state government pleader PP Kakade had told the court it was impractical to suggest such essential service providers be given places to stay within the city.
He had made the submission before a bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta that was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a resident of Palghar district seeking temporary accommodation in Mumbai for such essential service providers who commute between Mumbai and Palghar district each day for their work.
The plea filed 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, filed through lawyer Uday Warunjikar, claimed frontline workers catching the virus from Mumbai and travelling back to their homes in Vasai-Virar had become one of the primary causes for the spread of COVID-19 in Palghar district.
The situation is similar in areas such as Thane, Kalyan Dombivali, and Navi Mumbai, the plea claimed.
On the last hearing, however, the court had said merely making such an oral statement was not adequate and had directed the state to file an affidavit detailing reasons why it could not provide accommodation.
In its affidavit, the state said these employees were anyway following the state's directions on hygiene, using masks, sanitizers and maintaining social distancing while communicating and while at work in the city.
As per the petition, as on May 1 this year, Palghar district had 136 COVID positive cases, of which 10 persons died due to the infection.
At the time of filing of the plea, there were 69 cases, of which 47 were 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. PTI AYA BNM BNM