The Delhi High Court has said that the AAP government and the municipal corporations in the ntional capital have taken adequate steps to ensure safety of 'safai karamchaaris' during the COVID-19 pandemic. A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad also said that WHO guidelines are also being adhered to by the authorities.
The observations by the bench, in its order of June 9, came after perusing the affidavits filed by Delhi government and the civic bodies with regard to distribution of the personal protective equipment (PPE) kits to the workers. The high court had asked the Delhi government and the three municipal corporations to give details of the number of sanitation workers in their respective jurisdiction and the number of PPE kits provided to them on a day-to-day basis during COVID-19 pandemic.
The high court noted that according to the affidavits PPE kits are being provided on a daily basis to safai karamchaaris and the equipment is not reused. The bench also noted that adequate number of surgical and N-95 masks and gloves are being provided to the workers and the bio-medical waste was being disposed of in accordance with mandate of the pollution control board.
The observations of the bench came while disposing of the separate pleas by social activist Harnam Singh and the All India Municipal Corporation Staff Union seeking direction to the authorities to provide personal protective gear to sanitation workers who are carrying out their work during the coronavirus pandemic.
Advocate Mehmood Pracha, appearing for Singh, had contended that while the authorities claim to have distributed the PPE kits, the workers on the ground do not appear to have received them. The petitioners had also sought setting up of sanitizing cubicles in each ward for disinfecting the sanitation workers after they complete their duties each day.
On this aspect, the bench said that the Ministry of Health has issued an advisory that clearly recommends against spraying disinfectant on an individual or group. The high court said that the advisory states that spraying of chemical disinfectants is "physically and psychologically harmful for human beings".
Therefore, the corporations decision not to set up sanitizing cubicles was "justified", the bench said and added that no further directions were necessary in this regard.