The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to respond to a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking temporary accommodation in Mumbai for essential service providers, who commute between Mumbai and Palghar district each day for their work.
The plea, filed by Charan Ravindra Bhatt, a resident of adjoining Palghar district, claims that such commute to COVID-19-affected areas in Mumbai has resulted in several frontline workers testing positive for coronavirus.
The PIL claims that frontline workers catching the virus from Mumbai and travelling back to their homes in Vasai Virar towns has become one of the primarycauses for the spread of COVID-19 in Palghar district.
The situation is similar in areas such as Thane, Kalyan Dombivali and Navi Mumbai, too, the plea claimed.
Each day, state transport department buses make 129 trips to ferry such frontline workers between Vasai and Virar, and Mumbai, the petitioner told HC.
Bhatt has sought that such frontline workers be provided temporary accommodation in Mumbai.
Else, the state authorities be directed by the HC to restrain those working in essential services to commute to Mumbai from nearby districts, he said.
In an order passed on Tuesday, a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and justice A A Sayed directed the state government to file its reply by May 15.
As per the petition, as on May 1, Palghar district had 136 COVID-19 cases, out of which 10 persons succumbed to the disease.
Currently, there are 69 positive cases of which, 47 are health care workers, ward boys, nurses, paramedics and hotel staff and other frontline workers, who went to affected areas in Mumbai for their jobs, the plea claimed.
Therefore, if preventive measures were not taken immediately, more residents in the district will be at risk of contracting the disease, the petitioner said.