MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked the Maharashtra government and civic bodies to consider using part of fines collected from the people not wearing masks for distributing sanitizers and masks to the persons from the lower strata of society.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni said homeless people, beggars and those living on roads are usually seen without masks and may not be in a position to purchase them regularly.
The high court was informed by the government that the fines collected from the people for not wearing masks was used by the disaster management department towards COVID-19 related resources.
“You (government and other civic bodies) may also utilize this fine amount collected to provide masks to the homeless people and beggars or to those persons who are living under the poverty line so that they need not purchase,” the bench said.
“Masks and sanitizers should be given to the unattended segment of the society,” Justice Kulkarni said.
The high court added that authorities should carry out a drive to ensure that every person wears a mask.
“I have seen people in Malabar Hill (south Mumbai) going for jogging or early morning walks without masks. A few weeks back we learnt from news reports that there is a high number of COVID-19 cases in Malabar Hill high rises. These people do not care about their own lives and put others also at risk.” Chief Justice Datta said.
The HC also said that the police or civic body marshals should step up their drive against this.
It also said that the government should also look into how vaccination can be provided to those people who do not have any electronic devices to register themselves.
The high court was hearing a public interest litigation seeking a uniform policy for collection of fines throughout the state for not wearing masks and also suggested the use of special masks for persons with speech and hearing disabilities.
The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on May 6.
He said private laboratories must be empanelled and requisitioned so more RT-PCR tests were conducted and results were provided at the earliest.
He also said that a foolproof mechanism must be evolved for transportation of patients to the hospitals besides making adequate arrangements to drop them home after treatment.
The central government has sanctioned six PSA oxygen plants for the state, which would be set up at civil hospital, Palampur; zonal hospital, Mandi; civil hospital, Rohru and civil hospital, Khaneri; Y.S Parmar government medical college and hospital, Nahan; and regional hospital, Solan, the Chief Minister noted.
He said this would ensure adequate oxygen supply to about 1,400 beds in these health institutions.
Apart from 1,000 bed capacity to be created at Paraur, efforts were on to create bed capacity of 200 at Radha Swami Satsang Vyas complex in Mandi and 300 beds at new OPD block of IGMCH in Simla.
In addition, the space has also been identified at Baddi-Barotiwala area for creating an additional 500 bed capacity for COVID patients.