The Supreme Court on Friday granted a fortnight to states to come up with suitable plans of action to provide employment or other sources of livelihood to the lakhs of migrant labourers who have returned to their native places amid the lockdown.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.R. Shah , which had earlier taken suo motu cognisance of the plight of the migrants during the last hearing, had earlier issued directions to ensure no migrant worker is charged for the rail or road travel back home. The court had also said that the migrants stranded far away from home must be given food, shelter and other basic amenities by the state governments concerned.
Justice Bhushan, heading the bench, said on Friday that the court was giving 15 days to the Centre and the states to come out with the steps being taken by them to provide employment and other means of livelihood to the lakhs of migrants who had returned home. The court said it would again assemble on June 9 and pass further interim directions.
“All states should bring on record employments or relief they can provide to their migrant workers. List of migrant workers prepared villagewise, so that states will know from where they have come and how they have come, what schemes are available, etc...,” the court said.Solicitorgeneral Tushar Mehta told the bench that till date the railways had operated 4,270 Shramik Special trains to ferry around 1 crore migrants.
He said the Centre had written to all state chief secretaries and administrators of Union Territories asking them about their requirements for trains. Mehta said the Centre was ready to fulfil the requests of the states and Union Territories.
The Centre claimed that almost 90 per cent of the migrant workers who had sought to return home from their workplaces had already been transported and the remaining would be ferried in the next two weeks.
“Only state governments can tell how many migrants are yet to be shifted and how many trains will be required,” Mehta said.
The court allowed an intervention application moved by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking directions to improve the lot of the stranded migrants and the vulnerable sections affected by the pandemic.
In its application filed through advocate Mohit Paul, the NHRC, among other things, pleaded that in order to estimate the inflow of migrant workers, the states should collect data at the points of departure and arrival. This will help the states to effectively plan quarantine and relief measures for the migrant workers, the rights panel said.
The government of India and the state governments must ensure proper implementation of the InterState Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, so that the migrant workers are provided with a journey allowance, the NHRC pleaded.
It said menstrual hygiene products should be provided to migrant women and adolescent girls across the country. At the AndhraOdisha border in Odisha’s Ganjam district, women and adolescent girls walking home along NH16 have received menstrual hygiene products, along with food and other relief material, from the NGO Youth for Social Development (YSD), the NHRC told the court.
The NHRC said each state should be directed to ensure proper functioning of shelter homes, especially for the accommodation of pregnant women, lactating mothers, children and elderly persons. It should be ensured that medical facilities and nutritious food are available in these homes, the rights commission said.