The Karnataka High Court on Thursday said the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has to strictly ensure supply of essential goods and services to the people living in containment zones, as per the COVID-19 management orders. The civic body has said that there are 400 such zones.
A special Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice B.V. Nagarathna issued the directions while hearing through video conference PIL petitions related to issues that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic.
As it was pointed out to the court that poor people living in slums cannot go to jobs due to restrictions and they are finding it difficult to get food, the Bench noted, from the Standard Operating Procedures and the circulars issued by the government on April 17, that the local administration will have to ensure supply of essentials to the residents of the containment zones.
Even if there are 400 containment zones, it is the obligation of the BBMP to ensure the supply of essential goods to the people residing in these zones as the April 17 circular states that containment zones would be completely sealed down with no movement of people outside their houses even for basic necessities.
As per the government’s circular, the Bench noted that supply of ration by fair price shops at the doorstep of the ration card holder would also need to be undertaken by the authorities. When the BBMP counsel said that the civic body has no scheme for providing free food packets /ration kits, the Bench made it clear that failure of the BBMP to abide by the government’s instructions and the SOPs amounts to violation of fundamental rights of citizens under the Article 21 of the Constitution.
The Bench also directed the BBMP to inform the court the machinery it has put in place for citizens in the containment zones to lodge grievances with the authorities as the citizens cannot come out their houses.
The Bench also said that ward committees set up as per the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act will have to play a proactive role for ensuring uninterrupted supply of essential goods and food materials to the citizens, and availability of health services to pregnant women in contain zones.