The government on Wednesday (March 25) gave power to zonal Deputy Commissioners to take “strict penal action” against landlords who have been forcing doctors and paramedical staff, engaged in fighting the coronavirus, to vacate their rented premises.
According to a government notification, such behaviour “not only strikes at the root of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic but is also tantamount to obstruction of duty of essential services.”
Invoking the Delhi Epidemics Diseases, COVID-19 Regulations, it said the district magistrates, zonal deputy commissioners of municipal corporations and the deputy commissioner of police are “directed to take strict penal action against such landlords and house owners under the relevant provisions of law”.
These officials have also been asked to submit their Action Taken Report on a daily basis.
The decision was taken after the resident doctors of India’s premier hospital AIIMS on Tuesday (March 24) sought the government’s intervention saying their colleagues were facing eviction from their homes by their landlords, who fear the medical professionals at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus could be infected.
In a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah, the Resident Doctors Association said many staffers were “stranded on roads” with all their luggage, and urged him to immediately release an order prohibiting landlords from evicting the health care professionals working tirelessly against the virus from their rented houses.
“This is to bring to your kind notice that doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers involved in COVID care are being asked to vacate their rented homes and some have been even forcefully evicted from their temporary residence by landlords and house owners due to the fear that the healthcare professionals make them more susceptible to the coronavirus infection,” the AIIMS association said in the letter to Shah.
An order from the home minister in this regard will ensure “our selfless services to our country in crucial time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.
The doctors association also drew Shah’s attention to the difficulty faced by healthcare professionals in reaching their workplace amidst a complete lockdown of public transport in most states.
“We request you to arrange proper transport for the healthcare providers across the country and direct the police and involved security administration to allow them to travel hassle free upon producing their Identity Cards,” it said.
The letter was signed by Adarsh Pratap Singh, president of the association, and Srinivas Rajkumar T, its general secretary.
Shah has spoken to the Delhi police chief and asked him to take immediate action to ensure the security of doctors facing harassment.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had also said he was “deeply anguished” by the reports of medical staff being “ostracised”. He reminded the landlords that the whole country had applauded the selfless services of healthcare professionals in these critical times by beating utensils, ringing bells, and blowing conch shells from self-quarantine.
“I’m DEEPLY ANGUISHED to see reports pouring in from Delhi, Noida, Warangal, Chennai etc that DOCTORS & PARAMEDICS are being ostracised in residential complexes & societies. Landlords are threatening to evict them fearing #COVID2019 infection. Pls don’t panic,” Vardhan said on Twitter.
“All precautions are being taken by doctors & staff on #COVID2019 duty to ensure they’re not carriers of infection in anyway. Any harsh steps will demoralise them, derail the system,” he said.
All precautions are being taken by doctors & staff on #COVID2019 duty to ensure they’re not carriers of infection in anyway. Any harsh steps will demoralise them, derail the system.On Sunday,nation applauded their selfless services. It’s our bounden duty 2 keep their morale high
— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) March 24, 2020
The health minister also said it’s “our bounden duty” to keep the morale high of the healthcare providers to fight the virus.
(With inputs from agencies)