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New Delhi, April 24, 2020
The Union Government has constituted five more Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs) -- two for Gujarat and one each for Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra -- to visit States for an assement of the COVID-19 situation.
These teams will make an on-the-spot assessment of the situation in these states and issue necessary directions to the state authorities for redressal of any shortcomings and submit reports to the Central Government in the larger interest of the general public, a press release from the Ministry of Home Affairs said.
"In some of the districts of the country, a number of violations of the lockdown measures have been reported, posing a serious health hazard and risk for spread of COVID-19, which is against general interest of public. These violations include incidents ranging from violence on frontline healthcare professionals, attacks on police personnel, violations of social distancing norms in market places and opposition to setting up of quarantine centres and so on," it said.
"The situation is especially serious in major hotspot districts or emerging hotspots like Ahmedabad and Surat (Gujarat); Thane (Maharashtra); Hyderabad (Telangana); and Chennai (Tamil Nadu). These teams would use expertise of the Centre and augment State efforts to fight and contain spread of COVID-19 effectively," it said.
In the case of Maharashtra, the area of responsibility of the IMCT constituted earlier for Mumbai and Pune has been expanded, the release said.
According to the release, the IMCTs would be focusing on a range of issues including compliance and implementation of lockdown measures as per guidelines issued under the Disaster Management Act 2005; supply of essential commodities; social distancing in movement of people outside their homes; preparedness of health infrastructure, hospital facilities and sample statistics in the District; safety of health professionals, availability of test kits, PPEs, masks and other safety equipment; and conditions of the relief camps for labour and poor people.
"If the incidents of above mentioned violations are allowed to occur without any restraining measures in hotspot districts/emerging hotspots or even places where large outbreaks or clusters may be expected, it would pose a serious health hazard for the people of the country," the release said.
The committees have been constituted by the Central Government in exercise of the powers, conferred, inter alia, under Section 35(1), 35(2)(a), 35(2)(e) and 35(2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act 2005. Governments of States/UTs have also been advised that while they can impose stricter measures than contemplated in the MHA Guidelines issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, they shall not dilute them.
"Also, the Supreme Court of India, in its Order dated 31.03.2020, has observed that all concerned State Governments, public authorities and citizens of this country would faithfully comply with the directives and orders issued by the Union of India in letter and spirit in the interest of public safety. This observation, which must be treated as directions of the apex court, has also been conveyed to all States/ UTs Governments," the release said.
The IMCTs would commence their visits at the earliest, it added.
On April 20, the Centre had constituted six IMCTs -- two each for West Bengal and Maharashtra and one each for Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The teams were set up after the Centre felt that the situation was serious in Indore (MP), Mumbai and Pune (Maharashtra), Jaipur (Rajasthan) and Kolkata, Howrah, Medinipur East, 24 Parganas North, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal.