The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday issued notices to the Delhi government and Union health secretary over the alleged mismanagement of Covid-19 situation in the national capital, asserting that the state “cannot leave its people to die”. It asked Delhi and the Centre to submit reports, after consulting each other, within 10 days.
Acting on a complaint by former Delhi Congress President Ajay Maken, the Commission has referred to difficulties faced by the general public due to the non-availability of beds in Delhi’s hospitals for Covid-19 patients and inadequate testing.
“Allegedly, there has been massive delay in conducting the last rites of those who died during the pandemic period; tests on the bodies of the symptomatic deceased are also not being conducted, violating the WHO [World Health Organization] and ICMR [Indian Council for Medical Research] norms, which can be extremely dangerous,” NHRC said in a press statement.
Observing that Maken had not only levelled allegations, but also provided data to support the complaint, NHRC said the situation raises the issue of government agencies’ “inappropriate approach” to the plight of the general public, amounting to “violation of human rights”.
“The data indicates that there is urgent need for taking effective steps immediately by the government agencies,” the NHRC statement read.
The Commission has asked both Delhi government and the Centre to submit a comprehensive report within 10 days after consulting with each other, while asking Delhi government to increase the number of beds and tests per day.
“It [NHRC] understands that this is an unprecedented situation for the government agencies, hospitals, doctors as well as patients and their families but the state cannot leave its citizens to die without making the best possible efforts. It is not incorrect to state that the number of Covid patients, in the country is increasing day by day and the recovery rate is above 48% but it is also true that a large number of people have died and the national capital is one of the worst affected cities so far,” NHRC said.
Maken filed a complaint with NHRC on Tuesday, alleging that suspected patients are running from one hospital to another for admission, but being turned away.
“The chart provided [by Maken to NHRC] indicates that the NCT of Delhi has a robust hospital infrastructure of 57,194 beds. It has a significant presence of central government hospitals also but it is painful to see that only 12% of the Delhi government, 8% of the central government institutions and 7% of the private hospital beds are presently occupied and are being used to treat COVID patients,” NHRC said.
NHRC also said that around 70% dedicated beds in Delhi are still lying vacant.