Weekly street markets should not turn COVID spreaders: HC to GHMC

Asks civic body to give details on measures initiated to check spread

The Telangana High Court had directed GHMC to explain steps taken by it to ensure street shandies, which come up in residential localities of Hyderabad on different days of a week, do not turn into super-spreaders of COVID-19.

A Bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy instructed the GHMC to file an affidavit with details of weekly shandies held in different parts of the city and measures initiated to check spread of coronavirus from those street markets.

The Bench was hearing a PIL petition filed by a law student M. Bhuvana who stated that no COVID-19 protocols were being observed at these weekly shandies.

She contended that, with no one monitoring compliance of rules relating to face masks and maintaining social distances, these street markets held on different days of a week amidst residential colonies were likely to trigger more positive cases. Her counsel B. Mayur Reddy said there were guidelines for street vendors. But those norms were not adhered to. Officials did not ensure their compliance.

Some vegetable vendors in these shandies were engaging minors to assist them. No officers were monitoring these vendors to comply with the norms of COVID-19 like compulsory wearing of face masks and maintaining physical distance. Many of them were not using sanitisers also, the lawyer contended.

GHMC counsel Pasham Krishna Reddy told the court that all such markets come under the purview of agricultural market committees. He said the GHMC had no role in monitoring such street markets. He said even Rythu Bazaars are governed by the Agricultural Marketing department.

The Bench, however, declined to agree with his contentions. It made clear to the GHMC counsel that the matter pertained to weekly street markets held in residential colonies. Since the GHMC was permitting them, the respective sanitary inspectors had a role in overseeing them, it said.

The Bench issued notices to State Health Secretary to explain steps being taken to ensure such weekly street markets did not become breeding grounds of COVID. The matter was posted to June 3 for next hearing.

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