Govt says testing lab not possible in each district, Bombay HC expresses ‘displeasure’

Written by Omkar Gokhale
| Mumbai |

Published: May 30, 2020 2:33:08 am

The bench expressed its displeasure over the state’s reply and sought the presence of Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni. (File)

The Bombay High Court on Friday expressed displeasure after the Maharashtra government stated it was not possible to have full-fledged Covid-19 testing facilities in all the districts of the state and that it had fulfilled the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines prescribing testing lab within 250 km.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice K K Tated was hearing a plea filed by a fisherman seeking proper testing facilities in Ratnagiri, a non-red zone, in the light of thousands of stranded migrant workers returning to the district from red zones, such as Mumbai and Pune.

In his petition, filed through advocate Rakesh Bhatkar, 58-year-old Khalil Ahmad Hasanmiya Wasta claimed that if migrants, returning from red zones to Ratnagiri, were not tested due to lack of facilities, it would endanger the lives of local residents there.

On May 26, the high court had sought to know from the state government whether Covid-19 testing facilities are available in each district of Maharashtra, including Ratnagiri, and inquired if mobile clinics can be started across the state.

On Friday, assistant government pleader for the state government submitted a note in response and informed the court that a testing facility had been established at the Civil Hospital at Ratnagiri as per a government resolution and same would be functional within eight days.

Responding to the court’s query on whether separate laboratory for each district can be established, the state lawyer, through the note, responded: “It can be seen that there is no need to have a separate laboratory in each district due to the procedure which gives sufficient time to send the samples to the designated laboratory within a radius of 250 km as recommended by the ICMR. Also, new laboratories cannot instantly be set up due to severe constraints in the availability of the technical infrastructure in each district.”

The bench expressed its displeasure over the state’s reply and sought the presence of Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni. When Kumbhakoni appeared, through video-conference, the bench said such an approach by the state was not acceptable.

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