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Village level quarantine centres are ‘the worst’: Uttarakhand HC asks state to fund gram sabhas

A survey of quarantine centres at village level was done by the district legal services authority following the Uttarakhand High Court's order last month.

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New Delhi: Taking note of the “pitiable condition” of quarantine centres at the village level in Uttarakhand, the state’s high court has asked the government to provide adequate funds to its gram sabhas.

The high court’s observation, Tuesday, was made on a report submitted to it by a district legal services authority.

“The sense which we are getting after studying these reports is that the quarantine centers, particularly at the village level, are the worst of the lot,” the court noted in its order, describing their condition as “pitiable”.

A survey of quarantine centres established at the village level in Nainital, Udham Singh Nagar, Haridwar and Dehradun was done by the district legal services authority following an order by the Uttarakhand High Court on 28 May.

The report also mentions that the quarantine facilities, mostly functioning in government primary and secondary schools, have poor sanitation facilities.

A bench of Justices Ravindra Maithani and Sudhanshu Dhulia ordered the state’s health secretary to take care of all shortcomings mentioned in the report.

It also asked the state government to ensure proper coordination between district magistrates and panchayat-level officers and to make alternative arrangement in places where gram pradhans were not functioning.

The court will hear the matter again on 17 June.

Also read: Detaining people in quarantine centres after negative Covid test violates Article 21: HC

Locals providing food to inmates

The report lays bare several shortcomings at the quarantine centres, including lack of facilities to provide food for the inmates. The legal services authority reported that food was being provided by villagers or family members of those lodged at the facilities.

Noting the report to be “shocking”, the high court also pointed out how in many of these centres there were only one or two toilets for more than 20 inmates.

“What is most shocking is that the hygienic condition of these toilets is also extremely poor. Most of these toilets are not clean. Apart from this, many of the toilets which are in urban areas are in bad conditions, as these toilets are not being cleaned regularly,” the order reads.

State to study report

The high court went on to observe that gram sabhas, which have to oversee the management of quarantine centres, were “short of funds” and appeared “to be in no condition to manage” them.

This, the court observed, was against a government order from last month promising sufficient funds to the gram sabhas to manage the quarantine centres. “We are afraid that this is not being done properly as of now,” the court said.

While asking the state to study the report, the court also directed authorities to issue necessary directions to the concerned district magistrates in order to implement the government order.

It also called for details of hotels earmarked as quarantine facilities, for which the state government is paying Rs 950 per person.

A detailed report on rapid testing for Covid-19 in the state was also sought from the state health secretary, which the court said will be taken up in the next hearing. The court had earlier mooted the idea of using rapid testing for Covid-19 diagnosis.

Also read: 6-year-old girl dies of snake bite in Uttarakhand quarantine centre, 3 booked


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