Covid-19 crisis: HC forms panel to look at feasibility of converting Delhi hotels into hospitals

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Published: June 12, 2020 1:00 AM

Continuing the hearing on petitions of Crowne Plaza and Surya, Justice Navin Chawla asked additional solicitor-general (ASG) Sanjay Jain whether the Delhi government had done a study before passing the May 29 order directing five luxury hotels to be converted into Covid-19 hospitals.

The panel will suggest whether such an exercise is feasible or not.The panel will suggest whether such an exercise is feasible or not.

The Delhi High Court on Thursday formed a two-member committee, comprising AIIMS director Randeep Guleria and Niti Aayog member VK Paul, to look into the issues being faced by Hotel Surya and Crowne Plaza for converting their premises into hospitals to treat Covid-19 positive cases. The panel will suggest whether such an exercise is feasible or not.

Continuing the hearing on petitions of Crowne Plaza and Surya, Justice Navin Chawla asked additional solicitor-general (ASG) Sanjay Jain whether the Delhi government had done a study before passing the May 29 order directing five luxury hotels to be converted into Covid-19 hospitals. The government’s counsel informed the court that a study was not conducted for the same.

Justice Chawla gave directions for appointment of a two-member panel of doctors, who will visit both the hospitals and will meet their management on the issue of “advisability/ feasibility” of using these hotels as extended Covid hospitals. Both the hotels and the government have been asked to depute officers to help the committee.

The panel has been asked to submit its report by Sunday (June 14, 2020). The court felt that it not only involves the interest of the hotels, but also of the public at large. Next hearing on the issue is on June 15 (Monday).

While Crowne Plaza was represented by senior advocate Maninder Singh, Hotel Surya was represented by senior advocates Saurabh Kirpal, Atul Sharma, Sugam Seth, etc. The counsel for hotels flagged issues like presence of air conditioning, lack of large lifts for stretchers, lack of bio-waste disposal, safeguarding hotel staff from infections, etc. They pointed out that these issues point out that it is not advisable to convert these hotels into hospitals.

Appearing for the state government, Jain said the apprehensions raised by hotels are “unfounded” and in view of the situation arising due to the pandemic, certain drastic measures have been taken by the government.

On May 29, the Delhi government asked Hotel Sheraton at Saket, Crown Plaza at Okhla Phase-I, Surya at New Friends Colony, Siddharth at Rajendra Place, and Jivitesh at Pusa Road to be converted into Covid-19 hospitals.

They are to be attached to hospitals — Batra hospital, Indraprastha Apollo, BL Kapur Memorial, Sir Ganga Ram and Max Smart Super Speciality.

Meanwhile, hotel sources said that another issue that has been raised with hospitals during their meetings is who will provide the finances for the conversion, as hotels are facing liquidity issues due to the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown.

This is considering that the hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and has seen almost no business since March 15. This is besides the fact that they have to keep paying their staff as well as maintain their properties, said one of the sources.

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