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P&H HC Seeks State's Response On Participation Of Corporate Houses For Providing Ambulances, Oxygen Beds, Ventilators To Govt Hospitals Under CSR

Nupur Thapliyal
13 May 2021 12:55 PM GMT
P&H HC Seeks States Response On Participation Of Corporate Houses For Providing Ambulances, Oxygen Beds, Ventilators To Govt Hospitals Under CSR
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The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday sought the response of States of Punjab, Haryana and UT of Chandigarh to ask the corporate houses for their participation in fighting the covid 19 crisis by providing ambulances, oxygen beds, ventilators, CT Scan machines etc. to Government Hospitals. A division bench comprising of Justice Rajan Gupta and Justice Karamjit Singh also asked the...

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday sought the response of States of Punjab, Haryana and UT of Chandigarh to ask the corporate houses for their participation in fighting the covid 19 crisis by providing ambulances, oxygen beds, ventilators, CT Scan machines etc. to Government Hospitals.

A division bench comprising of Justice Rajan Gupta and Justice Karamjit Singh also asked the nodal agencies in all the districts to monitor the ambulance facilities being provided by private operators and also directed them to ensure that the tele-consultancy is available to general public 24x7. In view of this, the Court had sought report from the Deputy Commissioner/Additional Deputy Commissioner of the Districts who are designated as Nodal Officers regarding tele-medicine facilities.

"It is left to the three States to ask the corporate houses to participate in fighting the crisis by providing ambulances, oxygen beds, ventilators, CT Scan machines etc. to Government Hospitals so that economically weaker strata of the society has easy access to such facilities. The States shall apprise the court about response, if any, received in this regard." The Court ordered.

The aforesaid direction came in view of the submissions made by Advocate General of Punjab, Atul Nanda that it is the obligation of the Companies to contribute at least 2% of their profit as social responsibility to the society as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) under sec. 135 of the Companies Act.

During the course of hearing, the Court was apprised by Amicus Curiae Senior Advocate Rupinder Khosla that there was need of more ventilators in GMSH-16, Chandigarh. Moreover, it was submitted that only six ventilators were functional and the hospital was facing difficulty in view of large number of patients pouring in for medical help.

Addressing the issue of wastage of vaccination vials in all the three States, Khosla also relied on the example of State of Himachal Pradesh wherein no wastage of vials has been reported.

Furthermore, it was also pointed out that the ambulance facilities provided by the government were overburdened and that due to this reason, private parties were providing the facility at a higher cost, making it a "business vulture".

It was submitted on behalf of the State of Punjab that 82 ventilators were supplied to the State out of which 71 were faulty. In view of this, demand to provide more ventilators was raised.

On the query of the Court about the covid situation in rural areas, it was submitted by the counsel appearing for the State of Punjab that a short affidavit will be filed by the State in this regard. However, the Court directed that affidavit be filed by an officer not below the rank of Principal Secretary, Health, Government of Punjab.

On the other hand, it was submitted by the State of Haryana that assistance of medical officers as well as final year medical students were taken for providing tele consultation. Furthermore, it was submitted that a cap has been put on the rates/charges of treatment by private hospitals which is being closely monitored.

Hearing the submissions, the Court directed the State of Haryana to file a status report by an officer not below the rank of Additional Chief Secretary, Health about the spread of disease in the rural areas especially of the work done at the ground level.

The Court was further apprised by the UT of Chandigarh that in view of the previous order of the High Court, a common strategy namely 'Uniform Anti-Corona Measures' has been drawn up by the Administration of all the three Districts wherein it has been decided that the Deputy Commissioners of all the three Districts i.e. Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula and Director Health Services of the three States shall hold meetings twice a week to review the situation and to take measures.

Furthermore, the Court was also informed that War Room meetings were being held regularly by the Administrator with Deputy Commissioners of Mohali and Panchkula, other officials and Doctors at PGIMER. It was submitted that in cases of emergency in the tricity, the authorities will be providing oxygen, medicines and medical equipment like ventilators etc. to each other to avoid any untoward incident.

During the course of hearing, the Court was apprised by ASGI Satya Pal Jain that the Government of India has increased the oxygen supply to Punjab from 227 MT to 247 MT and to Haryana from 267 MT to 307 MT. however, the Court was informed that the State of Haryana had made a request for supplying 6 more containers and for release of pending quantity of Remdesivir injections and vaccine.

On the aspect of vaccination, the Court observed thus:

"As regards the wastage of available quantity of vaccination, we feel that States need to examine whether Rule 24 of the Haryana Services Rule (General) needs to be invoked in case of Government employees to explore whether Government offices can be made fully functional at the earliest."

Furthermore, on the possibility of providing more ventilators to GMSH-16, Chandigarh hospital, the Court ordered thus:

"Government of India may examine the possibility of providing more ventilators to GMSH-16, Chandigarh hospital as the same is centrally located and patients normally approach the said hospital in the first instance. As regards the need for supporting staff, the issue may be examined by the Secretary, Health. If it is found that more staff is required in this emergency situation, he is at liberty to recruit the same on contract basis, in case a provision to this effect exists in the rules."

The Court also went ahead to direct all the three States to impress upon the private diagnostic centres to reasonably slash their rates for CT Scan for Covid patients.

The bench will now hear the matter on 18th May 2021.

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