The Patna High Court on Wednesday called from the state government the district-wise data as to the condition of the quarantine centres in Bihar for the migrants returning to the state.
"The relevance, significance and importance of ensuring proper sanitisation, cleanliness and orderliness at the Centres is highly imperative, more so looking into the economic condition, demography and population of Bihar. Today, 1/10th of the population of India lives in Bihar with highest density of population ratio. Hence the need, all the more, for monitoring the centres directly by senior level officer(s) at the level of the Government and with a greater vigil", the Court observed.
The Chief Justice-led bench required the Bihar government to submit its response by May 18, stating categorically (a) the number of quarantine centres established in the State of Bihar; (b) number of persons (migrants) housed therein; (c) number of persons who have been allowed to return to their respective places of destination after expiry of the mandatory period of quarantine; (d) total number of persons (migrants), who are further expected to enter the State of Bihar; (e) the capacity of centres to house such persons; (f) whether provision for security, sanitation and food exists at each one of such centre or not; (g) whether such facility stands outsourced or is being provided or sought to be provided directly by the employees of the State; (h) whether there is a provision for providing medical aid/facilities; and (i) mechanism for lodging complaints and its redressal.
"Based on the news reports dated 7th May, 2020 published in Dainik Bhaskar, Danik Jagaran, Hindustan (Annexure-1 series) and dated May 7, 2020 published in Hindu (Annexure-2), allegedly, at certain places, there is no check on the movement of the persons housed at the quarantine centres and that quality of food distributed to the occupants is not of the desired level", noted the Division Bench.
The bench inferred from the records that "perhaps in the State of Bihar, more than 2450 quarantine centres stand established by the Disaster Management Department, in anticipation of housing 2.5 lakhs persons, termed as migrants, who are desirous of returning home. Perhaps the figure may be more". The Court observed that Such quarantine centres are to be established and managed as per the guidelines for quarantine facilities framed by the Government of India- "There has to be proper segregation of the areas, prominently labelled as low risk, moderate risk and high risk areas. The entry and exit points of the said centres are required to be secured properly, with proper facilities of sanitation etc. Any mis-management in proper handling of such centres may result into the spread and/or increase of the disease in Bihar"
The bench acknowledged that on account of the current pandemic COVID-19, both the Central and the State Government have taken certain measures for not only transporting but allowing the persons residing outside to return to their parent States but have also issued certain instructions and guidelines with regard to their safety and security, imperative for securing safety of health of the persons already residing in the State, including the State of Bihar.
"In Bihar, at the level of the Government, all arrangements for setting up of quarantine centres contemplated under such directions stand taken but the difficulty appears to have arisen in their proper management at the ground level", remarked the Court.
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