The decision by the State government to charge a testing fee of Rs 500 at entry points and also Rs 3200 for RT-PCR test from people has been contested in the Meghalaya High Court.
During hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by High Court of Meghalaya Bar Association here today, a lawyer Kaustav Paul stated that the RAT (Rapid Antigen Test) is still being provided free of cost in other states whereas the Meghalaya government has fixed a fee of Rs 500 at entry points.
Paul also said that the rate for RT-PCR test in Meghalaya is very high as compared to other states. He told the court that it would be beneficial for the public if the State government reviewed the charges as proposed.
Advocate General Amit Kumar who appeared on behalf of the State government requested the High Court to give him some more time to obtain full instructions from the government on the matter. He assured that on the next date he will apprise the High Court as to why the rate for RT-PCR test has been fixed at Rs 3200 and why a charge is imposed for those volunteering for RAT test.
The bench of Justice Hamarsan S. Thangkhiew and Justice Wanlura Diengdoh also raised a point with regard to the entry points into the State, and as to whether testing is conducted on all the entry points.
According to the court, with the relaxation of restrictions in other neighbouring states there has been a large increase in the interstate movement of persons, which if not monitored and entrees tested, may lead to an increase or a spike again in the infections in the State.
The bench has directed the Advocate General to appraise the court on this aspect also on the next date. The matter has been listed for hearing on October 28.
It may be mentioned that the State government has issued a Notification dated October 6, 2020 detailing the ‘Policy of Testing on Payment and Paid Isolation’.
As per the notification, payment is only to be made by those persons who volunteer themselves for testing and not for those who are high risk contacts or those recommended by the District Surveillance Team which shall continue to be conducted free of cost.
The Rapid Antigen Test for Covid-19 will be mandatory for all persons, including visitors, for an amount of Rs 500.
Rs 3200 has been set as the capping charge for Truenat, CBNAAT and RT-PCR testing, but people under the BPL category and those carrying certificates of having undergone the tests in the last 72 hours will be exempted.