Bombay High Court
The Bombay High Court came down heavily on the Maharashtra government for failing to provide basic facilities like hospitals and good roads at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT) in Raigad district.
A division bench of Chief Justice N H Patil and Justice G S Kulkarni was last week hearing a public interest litigation filed by the UranSamajik Sanstha raising concerns about heavy vehicular traffic, lack of medical facilities as well as police patrolling at JNPT.
At present, according to the petition, there is only one rural hospital eight kilometres from JNPT, but it is not equipped to handle serious medical emergencies.
The JNPT had earlier informed the court that it had recently entered into an agreement with Apollo Hospital and that, within a period of nine months, a full fledged trauma centre will start in the JNPT premises.
The court then suggested that in the meantime the government could upgrade the existing rural hospital and ensure ambulance and doctors are available round the clock.
"You (government) cannot ignore important and basic facilities like medical care...especially in such places like JNPT. The government has to pay attention to all this too. Every plot of land you (government) cannot keep giving for commercial and residential use," the court said.
The court noted that when the JNPT is a port of national and international importance, an ideal road with sufficient number of lanes to cater to the special traffic ought to have been the first priority of the central and state authorities.
It added that even after 30 years of the JNPT's establishment, basic requirements like medical facilities and good roads were not considered by authorities.
"The result is insurmountable inconvenience to the public at large resulting in accidents and loss of life. It is imperative that all the roads leading to the port need to be properly planned, well maintained and all measures need to be taken to make them accident free," the court said.
"The roads should not be death traps," it said.
The bench said authorities have to fix accountability on those who are required to maintain the roads.
"The success, feasibility and ease of business depends on proper infrastructure which primarily include good roads that meet international standards," the court said.
The high court directed the Navi Mumbai police commissioner to take steps like deployment of traffic police for patrol and control of heavy vehicular and regular traffic on the roads, prevent illegal parking and so on.
It also directed the state government's Directorate of Medical Health to make available ambulances equipped with life saving facilities and station them at strategic locations.
Highway Authority informed the court that by March 2019, six to eight lane work of the road in question will be completed.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told the court that discussions were going on in connection with upgrading the rural hospital.
The bench posted the petition for further hearing after six weeks.
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