The Delhi High Court Thursday sought a status report from the Delhi government on how its existing system and infrastructure to deal with the pandemic was functioning and said that its concern was only whether the authorities would be in a position to render services on short notice in case of another COVID-19 wave. A bench headed by Justice Vipin Sanghi, which was hearing a batch of petitions concerning the pandemic in the national capital, asked the Delhi government to respond to the issue of periodically updating 'Delhi Fights Corona' website, translating certain web pages to Hindi and other concerns to ensure that the system put in place works efficiently.
The bench, also comprising Justice Jasmeet Singh, observed that its purpose is to sensitise both the Centre and Delhi government of the need to be prepared for the possibility of a third wave. In the light of the present state of the pandemic, our present concern is only whether the GNCTD would be in a position to render their services and sources on short notice in the unfortunate event of the country experiencing a third covid wave, the bench said. Our purpose is to only sensitise both the (Central and Delhi) governments of the need for them and readiness on the possibility of the third wave hitting us. We hope and expect that this aspect of information from all relevant portals, it added. The status report should touch upon the aspects that are not only in the present order but have been awaiting further action, the court said.
The court issued notice to the city government on a plea by Bhavreen Kandhari seeking the establishment of over one lakh hospital beds at par with WHO norms and the implementation of guidelines on medical preparedness and casualty management. The matter would be heard next on February 1.
Delhi State Legal Services Authority Member Secretary Kawal Jeet Arora told the court that 21,705 persons have availed the benefit of the schemes for grant of ex gratia and monthly assistance in case of death of a family member. He said that DSLSA received information concerning over 25,644 covid deaths from the government authorities and filed applications from grants of benefits under the schemes for 4016.
The court was informed that over 26,000 applications for monetary assistance were filed through the district magistrate and several requests were still pending. Senior lawyer Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government, said that he would file a common chart concerning the number of persons who have received monetary assistance as there seemed to be certain discrepancies in the data with him and DSLSA. During the hearing, Amicus Curiae and senior advocate Raj Shekhar Rao told the court that while a lot of issues arising from the pandemic have been taken care of, certain aspects, such as updating the Delhi government's covid website, translating webpages to Hindi, updating the status of EWS beds, installation of oxygen plants, required the authorities' attention.
Senior advocate Krishnan Venugopal, who appeared along with lawyer Aditya N Prasad, on behalf of Kandhari urged the court to deal with certain long-term prayers made in the plea and conceded that most of the grievances have been taken care of by the authorities. In her plea, the petitioner has said that while as per WHO criteria, Delhi ought to have had 1.19 lakh beds by 2020 given its population, the Economic Survey 2019-2020 showed that there were only over 57,000 beds in the city, including 11,000 beds in Delhi government hospitals.
The Economic Survey 2020-2021 showed that the beds were further reduced to over 54,000, it claimed. The petition also prayed that the guidelines issued by the National Disaster Management Authority for effective management of mass casualty events be implemented by the Delhi government