Bombay High Court: S.J. Kathawalla, J., addressed a petition filed on behalf of workers discharging essential services not being provided any protection from COVID-19 such as sanitizers, gloves, PPEs, etc.

The present petition was filed on behalf of workers of Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation. The grievance placed was that the workers were involved in Solid Waste Management including day-to-day road cleaning and transportation of garbage.

Further it was added that, the workers are compelled to handle garbage and solid waste with bare hands and are not provided with any water to clean their hands and feet throughout the day. They are only provided with 2-3 drops of hand sanitizers at the Hazeri Shade before they start working and 02 drops at the end of their shift.

Despite the workers discharging essential services at their respective stations, they are not provided with any protection from Covid-19 virus such as hand sanitizers, hand gloves, face masks, PPEs etc. save and except providing low quality face masks and hand gloves on one occasion.

Deputy Commissioner, Solid Waste Management noted the problems of the workers were real grave and needed to be addressed. However, no action in that respect was taken.

Central Government had announced a special insurance scheme that would cover the workers working as Safai karmacharis, wardboys, nurses, ASHA workers, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists and other health workers, as well as workers at government health centres and wellness centres.

The lackadaisical approach of respondent 1 Corporation and respondent 2 led to a few COVID-19 positives among the workers.

Advocate appearing for Respondent 1 Corporation stated that he has instruction to state that all personal protective equipments including hand gloves, face masks and hand sanitizers are being provided from time to time to all the workers.

Bench in view of the above stated circumstances, directed respondent 1 to file an affidavit setting out the following:

  • number of face masks, hand gloves, sanitizers which were in their possession prior to announcement of lockdown, subsequent additions thereto, along with detailed break up of the distribution carried out from time to time till date.
  • names and addresses of the individuals / firms / companies from whom the hand gloves, hand sanitizers, face masks, etc. are purchased by them and at what price.
  • Corporation shall also disclose on oath, how often the face masks, hand sanitizers and hand gloves etc. provided to the said workers are replaced / replenished.

Matter to be listed on 14-05-2020.[ Samaj Samata Kamgaar Sangh v. Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 640 , decided on 12-05-2020]

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