Delhi High Court requisitions five-star hotel to serve as Covid facility for judges amid scramble for beds

Widespread anger and criticism at government for prioritising judges

Maroosha Muzaffar
Tuesday 27 April 2021 09:53
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<p>A man sits next to the body of a victim who died of the Covid-19 coronavirus besides the burning pyre of another victim at a cremation ground in New Delhi on April 26, 2021.</p>

A man sits next to the body of a victim who died of the Covid-19 coronavirus besides the burning pyre of another victim at a cremation ground in New Delhi on April 26, 2021.

The Delhi government has allotted a five-star hotel as a Covid Health Centre for High Court judges, judicial officers and their families as thousands across the capital city are scrambling for beds and oxygen cylinders.

Even as city hospitals crumble under surging Covid numbers, the Arvind Kejriwal-led government has allotted 100 rooms in Ashoka Hotel, Chanakyapuri — a five-star hotel in the south of the city — as a Covid Health Centre that will be linked with the Primus Hospital in the neighbourhood with immediate effect.

Geeta Grover, the Chanakyapuri sub-divisional magistrate issued the order on Sunday, which said: “The biomedical waste disposal will be the responsibility of the hospital.

“The staff of the hotel shall be provided all protective gear and given basic adequate training. Ambulance for the transfer facility will be provided by Primus Hospital.”

In case there is any shortage of hotel staff, the order mandates that staff will be provided by the hospital. “All the services including rooms, housekeeping, disinfection and food for patients etc. shall be provided by the hotel.”

On Monday, Delhi saw the highest single-day Covid casualties with 380 dead and over 20,000 fresh cases.

On Tuesday, India saw a slight dip in new Covid cases with 323,144 testing positive and 2,771 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data.

Ms Grover confirmed to the Indian Express that the Covid Health Centre facility at Hotel Ashoka shall only be for the High Court judges, the High Court staff and their families. She said: “It will take at least till the end of the week for the facility to become operational.”

Meanwhile, there was widespread anger and criticism of the Delhi government for prioritising the high court judges even when thousands across the city are frantically searching for beds in Delhi hospitals.

On social media, filmmaker Onir said: “Shame on them .... when scores of people are dying and suffering they ‘Order’ 5 Star treatment not only for themselves but their families too. No wonder the judiciary does not treat all citizens are (sic) equal.”

Apar Gupta of the Internet Freedom Foundation tweeted: “Did not know medical care at the Ashoka Hotel was one of the service conditions under Chapter V the Constitution of India. Preferential medical care solely on account of public function and status is unbecoming of any state branch, more so a judicial body.”

On 14 April, in the wake of a sharp increase in the Covid cases, the city government had also issued another notice converting several hotels in the capital into emergency Covid hospitals.

The order had said that the hotels won’t be paid more than 5000 INR per patient per day. “Investigation charges, if any, shall be charged by the linked hospital at their scheduled rates and for oxygen support the linked hospital is allowed to charge at the hotel Rs 2,000 per day basis.”

The sub-divisional magistrate’s order on Sunday also said that the charges shall be collected by the hospital and that the hospital — Primus Hospital in this case — shall make the payment to the hotel. It added: “Primus hospital may accommodate their doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff at their own expenses after deciding the rates mutually.”

Non-compliance shall invite penal action, the order said. All services including food, housekeeping, disinfection shall be provided by the hotel.

Executive Director Dinesh Kumar Meena shall coordinate with Primus hospital to set up the Covid Health Centre facility at Hotel Ashoka.

India is currently battling a severe Covid second wave which has led to thousands dying for want of hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and ventilators.

There are also an increasing number of reports claiming that the Narendra Modi-led government is under-reporting Covid related deaths across the country.

Crematoriums and graveyards are running out of space and bodies are piling up in hospital parking lots.The Indian government has even asked Twitter to take down tweets that are critical of the government.

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