June 10, 2021 2:02:07 am
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the Maharashtra government and the BMC why the authorities were unable to provide in advance week-long vaccination slots for the people of Mumbai and other cities.
The HC asked this after a petitioner informed it that districts like Kolhapur, Yavatlmal, Gadchiroli and Nashik have announced week or month-long vaccination slots in advance on CoWin portal and that the BMC should also adopt a similar approach as people were facing problems with the current system of having to book slots that are opened only a day earlier.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a PIL filed by Yogeeta Vanzara, through advocate Jamsheed Master, raising several issues related to CoWin and seeking orderly administration of jabs.
On June 2, the HC had asked the petitioner seeking a separate portal for booking vaccination slots in Mumbai to give suggestions to the Union and state governments on how to streamline the process.
On Wednesday, Master submitted six suggestions, including making available a weekly plan for vaccination, opening slots at a fixed time, monitoring vaccination centres by a city task force or ward health officers and making way for walk-in facility for the 18-44 age group with comorbidities.
The other two suggestions pertained to walk-in facility for the poor or those not having smart phones and engaging technical experts and system specialists from IIT-Bombay to ensure vaccination facilities are offered to the underprivileged.
Master said that while the Centre has asked states to come up with a vaccination plan in advance and “desist from publishing single day-vaccination calendars”, slots in Mumbai are opened for booking only day earlier.
Senior Counsel Anil Sakhare, appearing for BMC, said that the civic body can arrange a weekly programme only if the state allocates a weekly vaccination quota in advance.
Additional Government Pleader Geeta Shastri, representing the state, said that publishing the programme in advance was subject to availability of stock.
“Conditions in Kolhapur and Mumbai may not be the same. In rural areas, people are still apprehensive about taking vaccines. All these are administrative decisions, leave it to them. They know where the bottlenecks are. It would be desirable that the government looks into the suggestions. If it feels some of them are workable, it does not need to wait for court orders to implement them,” HC said.
The HC will hear the case next on June 17.
Meanwhile, while hearing other PILs seeking reliefs pertaining to the vaccination drive, the HC also asked authorities to address issues like lack of awareness and access to vaccination drives in rural areas as well as measures taken for inoculation of the homeless suffering from mental illnesses, sex workers and transgenders. It further asked the state and Centre what steps they had taken to inform people about the standard operating procedure for vaccination of people who do not possess identity cards needed for inoculation.
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