The Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the authorities, particularly the Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme Department of the state, to ensure that no destitute or homeless person or pavement dweller or other citizens in similar straits residing in the state is left out of the vaccination drive.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice SenthilKumar Ramamoorthy passed this direction while disposing a PIL seeking to ensure the homeless and less privileged including pavement dwellers and persons who slip through the cracks in the system and may not be registered at all are protected against the virus and measures are taken to vaccinate them.
According to the status report filed by the Principal Secretary to the Government in the Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme Department, referred to as the Deendayal Antyodhaya Yojana, which is the National Urban Livelihoods Mission, which has been implemented in 664 urban local bodies, including 15 corporations, 121 municipalities and 528 town panchayats. The report also refers to a Project Sanctioning Committee overseeing a scheme for the urban homeless in terms of a Government notification of May 7, 2014 as amended by a notification of October 27, 2017.
The report also referred to functional shelters and the money sanctioned or expended in taking care of the persons that the petitioner wants vaccinated. “It is also apparent that the State has a programme to ensure that all such vulnerable persons are vaccinated as expeditiously as possible,” said the report.
Therefore in light of those facts, the Court disposed of the PIL, with a request to the concerned authorities, “particularly the Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme Department of the State, to ensure that no destitute or homeless or pavement dweller or other citizen of similar kind residing in the State is left out in the vaccination drive and all Corporations, Municipalities and Town Panchayats should be sensitized by the department to ensure that these vulnerable persons be regarded as candidates for immediate urgent vaccination since they stand more exposed than other citizens to contract the virus.”