With reference to its decision to commence domestic flights from May 25, the Bar Council of Delhi has written to the Civil Aviation Ministry to take immediate adequate measures at all central air conditioned airports so that there is no spread of coronavirus.
"We do not know whether Government has taken adequate measures in so far as use of central air conditioning at the airports are concerned, since now it has been categorically established that central air conditioning is a source of spread of coronavirus", reads the letter addressed by BCD Chairman K. C. Mittal.
In this behalf, the status report filed by Union of India before the Delhi High Court on the Council's own application raising concerns regarding buildings which are air conditioned and the people working in such environment. The Central Public Works Department, which maintains a large number of Central government offices across the country, has in the status report acknowledged the widespread concern that in these times, when the entire world is facing the threat of COVID, with the summer approaching, the operation of circulating fans, coolers and ACs in offices and work spaces, may lead to the spread of the virus.
In order to provide adequate protection against this, the CPWD Directorate had examined the COVID 19 Guidance Document for Air Conditioning and Ventilation prepared by the ISHRAE Task Force (Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) on how to operate air conditioning and ventilation systems to control the spread of coronavirus in residences, workspaces and health care facilities.
Accordingly, by an Office Memorandum of April 22, the Department decided to use these HVAC guidelines, prepared upon discussion with experts from the industry, research and academia, for the guidance of the field formations of the CPWD throughout the country. It directed that these guidelines are to be implemented by the various field offices of the CPWD which are maintaining Central government work spaces throughout the country to prevent any contamination by air circulation in these offices manned by government officers and staff.
"We are sure that on such an important issue, your ministry must have taken care of this particular aspect before commencement of domestic flights. However, you may please ensure, if not already, to take immediate adequate measures at all central air conditioned airports so that there is no spread of coronavirus", pleads the BCD Chairman.
He further avers that "we do not know how far it is correct, but the general message is that this virus came from abroad and was carried by passengers travelling to India from various foreign countries", lamenting that "If at the initial stage, care could have been taken in January 2020 onwards, things would have been different". "Now that, all States / UTs are effected, precautions must be taken so interstate risk is ruled out", it is urged.
The Council has further pointed out that the use of central air conditioners in the buildings of the High Court of Delhi for the same reason had to be abandoned and alternative arrangements are being made. "We hope you would kindly take absolute care of everybody, who intends to travel by domestic flight, at all the airports", reads the letter.