Updated on 24 Aug 2021, 4:47 pm
Manipur High Court (PHOTO: IFP)
The Manipur government is facing fund crunch and the disbursal of salaries to medical personnel fighting against pandemic was held up for want of funds, Additional Advocate General (AAG ) informed the Manipur High Court during the hearing of a PIL that sought the court's direction to procure sufficient oxygen and ICU beds for COVID-19 patients.
The AAG joined the virtual hearing of the PIL on Monday on behalf of the principal secretary (Health), who in the previous hearing was ordered by the division bench to assist the video-conference hearing of the PIL and to inform all the steps that have been taken and the steps that are proposed to be taken in the context of this pandemic. The principal secretary was unable to join the video conference hearing as he was required to attend the Assembly Session,
During the hearing, the AAG admitted that the state government was facing a funds crunch and informed that disbursal of salaries to the medical personnel battling this pandemic was held up for want of funds.
However, he was unable to state whether the central government has been approached for the required financial assistance. In this regards, the division bench comprising chief justice Sanjay Kumar and justice Kh Nobin directed the state government to file additional affidavit and address the aspects in it.
It directed the advocate of RIMS to ascertain whether Covid-19 patients are being refused admission at RIMS, Imphal, unless they are in a serious state. It stated that the advocate of RIMS should file an affidavit explaining whether the senior doctors in RIMS are undertaking treatment of Covid-19 patients or are deliberately keeping away.
It further directed that the additional affidavit shall also address the issue as to whether senior doctors in the district hospitals are personally supervising the treatment of Covid patients and whether there is any dereliction of duty on their part in this regard.
The court after going through the records of the additional affidavits dated July 28 and August 9 filed by the Central and state government observed that there is no clear indication in any of the affidavits filed by the authorities as to what is the percentage of people who are unwilling to take the Covid vaccine and the steps being taken by the authorities to educate them of the benefits of doing so.
In this regards, the AAG stated the court that the aspects will address in the next additional affidavit and further informed that the newly deputed expert team from the central government is studying the ground realities and is making suggestions as to how the state government should go about dealing with Covid related issues.
The division bench also took note of the letter dated July 20 of the ministry of Health and Family Welfare addressed to the principal secretary of Health and Family Welfare departments which indicates that over 90 per cent of active cases as reported by the central team were being managed under home isolation in the state.
The court also observed that home isolation in Manipur is not a feasible option owing to the unfortunate fact that most houses are equipped only with a single bathroom and the chances of the entire family being infected if one member tests Covid positive are on the higher side.
In this regards, the court also directed the state government to explained as to whether the government has studied the fact situation obtaining on the ground and as to why Covid care centers are no longer being utilised.
After observing that live saving equipments which were airlifted by Air Force planes were transport until only to the nearest Air Force base and later brought to the state by roads leading to damage of the equipments during the road journey through rough terrain, the division bench directed the additional solicitor general to sensitise the authorities concerned as to the ground realities obtaining in the State of Manipur so that the equipment can be brought directly by air to Imphal, instead of being taken to the nearest Air Force base simply because it is being transported by an Air Force plane.
"Bureaucratic red tape should not be the reason to delay the installation and commissioning of such life-saving equipment owing to the damage and repair occasioned by long journeys from distant Air Force bases to different locations in the state," the court's order mentioned.