The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an application which sought for direction(s) of nationwide acquisition & conversion of hotels, resorts, guesthouses etc. to shelter homes, quarantine center's & isolation wards.
'Government has already started the process', submitted Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
"People are coming with millions of ideas; cannot hear everyone", observed a bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta.
The prayer sought in the application supplemented the relief sought in a PIL filed by Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava earlier, seeking urgent intervention to ensure access of basic necessities to migrant workers attempting to walk back to their villages from cities owing to the nationwide lockdown.
Emphasizing on the immediate need to use the facilities already at hand, the applicant stated that the authorities shall save time, money and effort by this action of acquisition & conversion of self-sufficient premises as they are already equipped with essentials such as electricity back up, beds, multiple washrooms, regular water supply, pantry kitchen areas, ventilation, lifts, manpower, security etc.
"Governments across the country are in the process of spending huge amounts on acquiring stadiums, railway coaches and converting them into quarantine facilities which may not be necessary, before exhausting self contained accommodations which have ready facilities already"- stated the application.
He further contends that the said action emanates from section 65 of the Disaster Management Act & Epidemic Disease Act, 1857 whereby the concerned authorities can use "available resources" to the "optimum before resorting to creating resources"
"Section 65 of the Act empowers authorities to take over/acquire properties in view of the epidemic and use them for whatever the committee deems fit."
In light of the above, the applicant contends that stadiums, coaches etc. "cannot match or be equated with the sanitation and hygiene levels offered by the self-contained accommodations, which are required to be maintained especially keeping in mind the contagiousness & biological properties of COVID19 and that there will be constant electricity & water supply in these accommodations."
Also, in terms of representations of the applicant, preference to these premises saves public exchequers' money, which is currently being spent in building make-shift arrangements, most of which have poor sanitation and hygiene.
The application had been drawn by Ms. Mithu Jain, AOR, Mr. Arjun Syal and Ms. Vidisha Kumar and filed by Ms. Mithu Jain.