New Delhi: Just a day after Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that the National Capital city would be reserving Delhi government-run hospital beds for people residing in it, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal overruled him through an order saying treatment “should not be denied to any patient on grounds of being a non-resident”.
With several political parties have already criticised the Delhi government’s decision, the latest instance of difference between the chief minister and the L-G has the potential of damaging the coordination between the elected government and the Centre’s representatives when Delhi is witnessing a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Meanwhile, Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain on Monday said the total number of cases were expected to rise to 56,000 within two weeks.
As of Monday, Delhi’s tally of COVID-19 cases stood at 28,936 with over 1,300 added during the past 24 hours. The death toll in the city meanwhile rose to 812; 51 more patients died during the past 24 hours. After Maharashtra, Delhi has the highest number of active cases at 17,125.
In his order, Baijal said everyone would be treated without “discrimination” in Delhi. Citing judgments of the Supreme Court on how ‘right to health’ was an integral part of Right to Life, it also noted that all the government and private hospitals and nursing homes situated in the National Capital Territory of Delhi have to extend medical facilities to all COVID-19 patients looking for monitoring or treatment without any discrimination on the grounds of one being a resident or non-resident.
Exercising his powers as the chairperson of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, Baijal further “directed all the departments and authorities of NCT of Delhi, to ensure that treatment is not denied to any patient on the ground of not being a resident of Delhi”.
The L-G’s comments were immediately hailed by BJP leaders. Party MP Gautam Gambhir took to Twitter to state: “Excellent step by LG to overrule Delhi Govt’s idiotic order of not treating patients from other states! India is ONE and we have to fight this pandemic together!”
In a video statement on Sunday, Kejriwal, who himself will undergo a COVID-19 test on Tuesday, had stated that 10,000 beds under the Delhi government would be reserved for residents. He had argued that if Delhi were to take in patients from other states that all its beds would get occupied at once.
Kejriwal had also noted that the COVID-19 cases were expected to rise and that a panel of doctors had predicted Delhi’s needs for bed to rise to 15,000 by June end.
The chief minister had, however, noted that Central government hospitals would continue to take in patients from outside Delhi while private hospitals of Delhi too would continue to provide special treatment to all patients.
His decision was criticised by several politicians. A Bahujan Samaj Party leader tweeted in Hindi that the decision was “unfortunate”. He wrote: “Delhi is the capital of the country. People from all over the country come here for work. If anyone falls ill and is being denied treatment because the person does not belong to Delhi and the Delhi government does not provide treatment, then it is very unfortunate.”
Former Union finance Minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram too tweeted: “Mr Kejriwal says Delhi hospitals are only for Delhiites. Will he please tell us who is a Delhiite? If I live or work in Delhi, am I a Delhiite?”