BBMP has no plan for homeless people, says HC

Directs State government to take serious note and ensure identification of needy

Observing that the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has no plan even after 21 days of lockdown to identify vulnerable persons in need of food and shelter, the Karnataka High Court on Thursday directed the State government take serious note of the civic body’s affairs.

The court also said that the government’s interference to ensure that BBMP complies with all the statutory obligations to protect the interests of migrants and homeless living on the streets is very crucial as Bengaluru Urban comes under the red zone of COVID-19 affected districts accounting for 1/3rd of positive cases in Karnataka.

The court referred to the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, dealing with responsibilities of local bodies and penal action that could be taken against the government officers who fail to perform the duties assigned to them as COVID-19 has been declared a disaster.

A special division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice B.V. Nagarathna issued the direction as the BBMP could not provide any data of migrants and homeless persons living on the streets in the city or a plan to identify such persons to protect them during the lockdown. The bench was hearing through video conferencing the PIL petitions related to COVID-19 lockdown.

The bench also noted that advocates representing petitioners and the Central government standing counsel, based on their interaction through video conference with the BBMP Commissioner as per the court’s direction, categorically stated that the BBMP had no plan for identifying homeless migrants and other vulnerable persons on the streets despite specific directions issued in this regard by the Additional Chief Secretary (Urban Development Department).

The bench also noted that a councillor has written a letter to the court on the inability of the BBMP to provide food.

As BBMP counsel said that 40 marshals have been now assigned to identify vulnerable persons on streets, the bench how 40 marshals can be tasked to identify vulnerable persons across 198 wards while pointing out that this aspect supports the fact that the BBMP has no plan to identify needy persons requiring shelter and food.

Referring to the BBMP’s statement that it has now secured data from the Labour Department that there are about 61,000 migrant workers in the city, the bench said this data of of migrants appears to be of those on construction sites but the question is what effort the BBMP made to locate vulnerable persons on the streets in the past 21 days.

On the BBMP’s “tall claim” that food was supplied to around 8 lakh persons and around 68,000 ration kits were distributed, the bench wondered to whom the food and ration kit had gone when the BBMP has not identified needy migrants and other vulnerable persons on the streets.

How will homeless migrants and others on the street benefit if the BBMP merely gives a public notice in newspapers about the availability of food and shelter, the bench questioned.

The bench adjourned further hearing till April 21 while directing the government to submit a report of compliance by coordinating with the officers of the BBMP. Even if the BBMP prepares a report to be submitted to the court, it should be approved by the ACS (UDD), the bench said.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 4:58:55 AM |

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