Mumbai, May 27:
The Supreme Court has asked the Union Government to furnish information by Thursday, about steps being taken to help migrant workers stranded due to the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown and has asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to assist it on the issue.
Taking a suo motu cognizance of plight of migrant labourers, stranded in different parts of the country, a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M R Shah issued notice to the Centre, states and Union Territories on Tuesday and sought their replies by Thursday, on the steps taken to redeem the situation.
The apex court said that there have been lapses on part of Centre and state governments and immediate measures are required to provide travel dacilities, shelter and food to migrant labourers. The SC said, “this section of the society needs succour and help” by the governments concerned. It was unfortunate that the plight of the migrant workers remains unchanged despite announcement of Rs.20 lakh crore economic relief package by PM to bring life into the Indian economy battered by COVID-19".
The bench said it was taking suo motu note of media reports and the many representations it received about the plight of migrants. In its preliminary remarks recorded in the order, the bench said the central and state governments should immediately make necessary t arrangements, “free of cost”. The government and the states had taken measures “yet there have been inadequacies and certain lapses”, the bench observed.
“We are of the view that effective concentrated efforts are required to redeem the situation,” the bench said in its two-page order, the large part of which was devoted to outlining the reasons why the court had decided to take up the issue on its own.
Media reports, the order said, had been “continuously showing the unfortunate and miserable conditions of migrant labourers” walking on-foot and cycles from long distances. They have also been complaining of not being provided food and water by the administration at places where they were stranded in the way i.e. highways from which they proceeded on-foot, cycles or other modes of transport.
Tuesday’s EC notice came barely 10 days after another bench refused to intervene on a petition that wanted the government to identify stranded migrant workers, take care of their needs and provide free transport to them. After the nation wide lock down came into force, the SC had declined to push the government to do more for the migrant workers. On 27 April, the court had closed another petition on the plight of migrant workers after the Centre insisted that all arrangements were made for the migrant workers at 26,000 plus relief camps.
Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]
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