Ensure essentials reach tribals amid lockdown: Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra government and civic authorities to ensure that food and basic necessities reach the tribal community across the state amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Amjad Sayed was hearing a petition filed by one Vivek Pandit highlighting the plight of tribals in the state during the lockdown, which was enforced to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The petitioner sought a direction to the government and civic authorities to provide essentials to tribals in Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Nashik, Dhule, Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Bhandara, Gondia, Nagpur, Yavatmal and Amravati districts.

Additional government pleader B V Samant told the court on Friday that several measures had been adopted by the government to supply food grains to the tribal community across the state.

“A circular was also issued by the government on April 27, directing all collectors to provide benefits of the Public Distribution System to vulnerable households, especially migrant labourers and others,” Samant told the court.

He further submitted that the process of issuing ration cards to tribals was also underway.

However, the petitioner’s advocate Vaibhav Bhure argued that this process was delayed as authorities were asking for various documents, which tribals were unable to furnish.

He urged the government to ensure that food grains and other essentials were provided to the community, keeping the process of issuance of ration cards in abeyance.

Samant assured the court that all essential items were reaching each and every member of the tribal community across the state.

“We have no doubt in our mind that the testing times notwithstanding, the government would leave no stone unturned to reach out to the members of the tribal community, who are marginalised people, and to ensure that not a single member is left without food and the basic necessities in these dark hours,” the court said and disposed of the petition.

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