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All hands needed on deck as country struggles to contain COVID-19, says Delhi HC

The court was hearing a PIL by an NGO which claimed that many workers living there had to go without food several times as the food kitchens were located more than a kilometre away.

Published: 24th April 2020 02:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th April 2020 02:32 PM   |  A+A-

Migrants walk to their hometown. (Photo | EPS)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has said that in the present "emergent" situation when the country is struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, "it is the need of the hour that all hands are on the deck".

The observation, by a bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad, came while suggesting to the Delhi government to appoint nodal officers for addressing all problems, such as obtaining food packets, faced by migrant and daily wage workers living in various relief camps during the lockdown.

The court was hearing a PIL by an NGO which claimed that many workers living there had to go without food several times as the food kitchens were located more than a kilometre away and all members of a family couldn't go there in view of social distancing norms.

The NGO, National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour, had also claimed that meals were being provided erratically, as all the three meals -- breakfast, lunch and dinner -- were hardly being provided to the migrant and daily wage workers.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Delhi government, agreed to the court's suggestion and said the officers names and mobile numbers shall be provided to the NGO.

Taking note of the submission by the ASG, the bench said no further directions were required in the matter and disposed it of.

While disposing of the petition, the court observed that the Centre and state governments are doing their best to provide food, dry rations and other essentials to the migrant worker population which has been hit hard by the lockdown.

But, it added, there are limitations on the resources available to the governments and "given the warlike situation existing on ground, the extraordinary efforts being made by all the agencies must be acknowledged".

  "In such an emergent situation, some anomalies can and will take place.

In the current circumstances when the State (country) is struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the need of the hour that all hands are on the deck," the bench said.

During the hearing, ASG Jain told the court that the Delhi government has set up around 40 food kitchens in schools and community centres across the city, wherefrom cooked food is being provided to the needy.

  He also said that as on April 20, about 3.

54 crore units of cooked meals have been provided to the needy, including migrants and daily wage labour.

  He further told the court that mobile vans have also been arranged to deliver food at various camps and locations, depending on the requirements, on a day-to-day basis.

  Besides the above, 1846 Hunger Relief centres have been set up by the Delhi government at various locations in the city.

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