A PIL has been filed by an NGO before the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to prepare, notify and implement a "national plan" as prescribed under the Disaster Management Act to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The petition, filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) through advocate Prashant Bhushan, has also sought a direction to the Centre to transfer all contributions made to the PM CARES Fund, set up for COVID-19 relief, to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
"In line with Section 46(1)(b) of the DM (Disaster Management ) Act, all present and future collections, contributions, and grants for the fight against COVID-19 should be credited towards the NDRF," the PIL said.
"A National Plan under Sections 10 and 11 of the DM Act must be prepared, notified, and implemented to deal with the pandemic," it said.
Pointing out that India has assumed the fourth position in terms of the most reported cases of COVID-19 in the world, the petition seeks that a minimum standard for relief to be provided for COVID-19 patients must also be laid down by the government in conformity with Section 12 (The National Authority shall recommend guidelines for the minimum standards of relief to be provided to persons affected by disaster) of the Act.
The plea further says in the face of an unprecedented crisis that hit the country, passing of ad hoc and emergent orders was understandable. But after over two months since the lockdown was imposed, there is a need for a robust National Plan.
"This National Plan needs to be formulated after due consultation with the states and must help towards detailed coordination between the Centre and the states at a time when the country is gradually opening up from a lockdown while also tackling the issue of consistently rising number of COVID-19 cases," it said.
The petition added that the latest National Plan uploaded on the website of the National Disaster Management Authority is of the year 2019 and the same doesn't comprehensively deal with situations arising out of the current pandemic and that there is no mention of measures like lockdown, containment zones, social distancing etc. in it.
"An expert body must be consulted for the Centre to draft a National Plan," the plea said.