The Delhi High Court said today that one of its committees was looking into use of fans instead of ACs, once the COVID-19 lockdown is lifted, and disposed of a plea which claimed the virus will spread more in centrally air-conditioned buildings if precautions not taken.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said that a special committee, set up by the high court to prepare a plan to meet possible post-lockdown challenges, was already seized of the issue raised in the application and therefore, there was no need for it to further hear the matter.
The application was moved by lawyer KC Mittal seeking that centrally air conditioned buildings, especially court complexes, be used with precautions to prevent spread of COVID-19.
The special committee, headed by Justice Hima Kohli, had on April 28 held a meeting in which it had asked the public works department (PWD) to conduct a survey on the types, like ceiling, pedestal and wall fans, and quantity of fans required.
The PWD was also directed by the committee to ensure that all windows, which would be left open for air circulation, have proper net/mesh so that no insects or mosquitoes enter inside the court building.
The committee took these decisions after it was informed by the PWD that procuring and installing ultra-violet germicide irradiation devices at huge expense would not guarantee complete eradication of all the virus, germs and particles including COVID-19.
Mr Mittal, also the head of the Bar Council of Delhi, had in his application contended that "the cough, sneeze or tear dispersal of an infected person would be in aerosol form" and the "same can be picked, ingested and circulated by the central air-conditioning units", like the ones installed in the high court.
He had also contended that while droplet infection can be dealt with by sterilization, once aerosol infection enters the air ducts of the central air-conditioning system, it could potentially infect dozens if not hundreds of persons present in a building.
Central government standing counsel Ajay Digpaul, who appeared for the Central Public Works Department, placed before the bench the guidelines issued by the civic body on April 22 with regard to cleaning and maintenance of AC units.
Delhi government additional standing counsel Sanjoy Ghose and advocate Naman, appearing for the PWD, told the bench that it had a meeting with the committee on April 23 and 28 and will have another one next week on the issue of installation of fans.
Mr Mittal had filed the application in the main petition on air pollution which the Delhi High Court had initiated on its own in 2015 to deal with the poor air quality in the national capital.
The court keeps issuing directions in the matter from time to time.
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