September 16, 2020 11:11:25 pm
The Gujarat High Court has directed the state government to put all districts on “high alert” and start taking appropriate steps to curb the spread of Covid-19, making a note of the worsening situation in Rajkot and Jamnagar.
The order dated September 9, when the court heard a bunch of public interest litigations concerning Covid-related grievances in the state, was made public on Wednesday. A division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala also told the state government to “stop playing on the back foot” and follow the “Ahmedabad model” in other districts.
The order noted that the court is “constrained to observe that despite putting best of its efforts, the government has been getting caught unaware and gets into action only after the situation worsens”.
“When the situation in the city of Ahmedabad and the areas on the outskirts became very serious, the State Government gave extra attention and focused on how the situation could be brought in control,” the court said, adding a similar approach was followed for controlling the “extremely bad” situation in Surat.
Noting that the situation in Surat has improved, the court remarked on the worsening situation in Rajkot and Jamnagar.
The order noted, “We take cognisance of the deteriorating situation prevailing in Saurashtra, more particularly, the city of Rajkot… We expect the state government and the authorities of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation ensure that the situation does not go out of control. The line of action and model adopted in the city of Ahmedabad should be made applicable in all other major cities, more particularly, the big cities like Vadodara, Rajkot etc…”
It added, “Today Rajkot and Jamnagar are the two cities which are hit extremely bad. This could have been averted if timely action and precautions were taken… However, we are sure that the situation in Rajkot, Jamnagar and other cities will be brought under control.”
The court requested for an exhaustive survey of the situation in Rajkot and “guide the local authorities to proceed in the right direction”.
The court entrusted the responsibility with senior bureaucrat Sonal Mishra, Secretary, Narmada, Water Resources, Water Supply and Kalpsar Department, who is one of the members of the five-member committee formed by the state government on instructions from the court earlier, to review infrastructural capabilities and shortfalls across the state. As part of the committee, Mishra has been designated for inspecting the civil hospitals of Rajkot and Bhavnagar region.
The court also reminded that norms and protocols framed by the administration to control the infection spread “needs to be scrupulously followed, and this applies even to the political leaders of the state, senior and junior”.
“The political leaders of the state are expected to lead their masses and not flout the norms prescribed to combat the pandemic. Flouting of norms by political leaders would set a bad example for the people at large, and may prompt the people to defy the norms,” the order noted.
Appealing to the public at large, the court observed, “We get to see hundreds of young men and women, boys and girls gather on the public streets in the evening hours, more particularly, at the most happening places in Ahmedabad. Most of them, without wearing mask. They hardly maintain the protocol of social distancing, which is an order of the day. We are sure the same must be the scenario in other cities and towns also, which is very unfortunate.”
Noting that they are all from the educated class, the court said, “If this continues, we will never be able to overcome the pandemic. It is high time we start doing something progressive rather than chasing Covid-19 all the time… we are now left with only one thing to do and that is to request the people with folded hands to cooperate with the authorities and follow the norms and protocols… more particularly, take care of themselves individually. If each individual takes upon himself the responsibility of protecting his life…, within a short time, we may be able to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The matters are expected to be taken up next on October 9.
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