Gauhati HC seeks govt response on COVID-related issues in tea gardens

Besides, the PIL also raised concern regarding the condition of workers in the tea gardens.

Gauhati High Court has sought written response from the Assam government to a PIL (public interest litigation) on issues relating to the present situation in the tea gardens of the state amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are over 800 tea gardens in Assam.

The concern of the petitioner is that in these tea gardens, the guidelines of the Government of India relating to the management of COVID are not being followed, and the Plantations Labour Act, 1951 and the Rules framed therein are also not being followed as the COVID Care Centres within the tea gardens are taking care of only asymptomatic patients.

Another concern put up before the court was regarding the creation of post-COVID clinics for the treatment of patients who have suffered from COVID and the need to be advised on various aspects after their recovery from the virus.

Besides, the PIL also raised concern regarding the condition of workers in the tea gardens.

In this connection, the Advocate General, Assam argued that “the government has been conscious of the health of workers in these tea gardens and out of 800 tea gardens, vaccination has already started in 208 of these tea gardens, out of which 28,000 workers have been vaccinated and out of these, 2000 have also received their second dose.”

Other figures were also cited by the Advocate General, which showed that the situation might not be as alarming as was being made out.

“Nevertheless, we want a written reply from the state, which must come on record before the next date (of hearing),” the court observed.

“As far as the Mobile Medical Units (MMU) and their use in these tea gardens are concerned, we have absolutely no doubt that since the government already has the resources, these Mobile Medical Units must be put in use for testing and other purposes in the tea gardens as well, if not already being done,” the court observed.

The court further directed the state government to file a counter-affidavit to show as to the tests being done and what kind of test is being done, for the determination of COVID-19 infections.

The matter has been listed for further hearing on May 31, 2021.

(Edited by Ibankyntiew Mawrie)

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