New Delhi: In some of the districts of the country, a number of violations of the lockdown measures have been reported, posing a serious health hazard and risk for spread of COVID-19, which is against general interest of public. These violations include incidents ranging from violence on frontline healthcare professionals, attacks on police personnel, violations of social distancing norms in market places and opposition to setting up of quarantine centres and so on.
The Centre has constituted Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs), two for Gujarat and one each for Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra (area of responsibility of earlier constituted Mumbai-Pune team expanded). These teams would make on-spot assessment of situation and issue necessary directions to State Authorities for its redressal and submit their report to Central Government in larger interest of general public.
The situation is especially serious in major hotspot districts or emerging hotspots like Ahmedabad and Surat (Gujarat); Thane (Maharashtra); Hyderabad (Telangana); and Chennai (Tamil Nadu). These teams would use expertise of the Centre and augment State efforts to fight and contain spread of COVID-19 effectively
The IMCTs would be focusing on a range of issues including compliance and implementation of lockdown measures as per guidelines issued under the Disaster Management Act 2005; supply of essential commodities; social distancing in movement of people outside their homes; preparedness of health infrastructure, hospital facilities and sample statistics in the District; safety of health professionals, availability of test kits, PPEs, masks and other safety equipment; and conditions of the relief camps for labour and poor people.
If the incidents of above mentioned violations are allowed to occur without any restraining measures in hotspot districts/emerging hotspots or even places where large outbreaks or clusters may be expected, it would pose a serious health hazard for the people of the country.
The Committees have been constituted by the Central Government in exercise of the powers, conferred, inter alia, under Section 35(1), 35(2)(a), 35(2)(e) and 35(2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act 2005. Governments of States/UTs have also been advised that while they can impose stricter measures than contemplated in the MHA Guidelines issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, they shall not dilute them.
Also, the Supreme Court of India, in its Order dated 31.03.2020, has observed that all concerned State Governments, Public Authorities and Citizens of this country would faithfully comply with the directives and orders issued by the Union of India in letter and spirit in the interest of public safety. This observation, which must be treated as directions of the Apex Court, has also been conveyed to all States/ UTs Governments.
The IMCTs would commence their visits at the earliest.