New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday singled out the Maharashtra government, citing huge lapses in its position on the issues of migrant workers, and asked it to be more vigilant and make concentrated efforts in identifying migrant workers still stranded in the state and are willing to return to their native places.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.R. Shah said: "The state Supervisory Committee, District Supervisory Committee and its officials should ensure that all migrant labourers, who are willing to go to their native place, should be identified... provide them food and shelter and that no complaint is received of not providing facility of journey or food from the stranded migrant labourers."
The observation from the apex court came in the judgement it delivered on the plight of migrant workers during the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus outbreak.
"The government should publicise and announce the places i.e police stations or any other suitable place for identifying/registering the workers, who have not yet been provided any train or bus journey," said the bench.
The state government counsel had told the apex court that about 37,000 people are still waiting to return. He submitted that Maharashtra has requested for only one train from the railways, the registration of migrant workers is being done and a list prepared by the state and most of the labourers have been shifted to relief shelters where they are waiting for their turn to board the buses and trains.
However, the court said: "We may notice, at this stage, that although in the affidavit, the state claims that it is providing food and shelter to migrant workers and list of entire workers is prepared, such claim has been refuted in different affidavits and materials brought on the record by intervenors and various individuals."
The bench observed that it has been claimed that there is no proper arrangement of food to the migrant labourers nor there is any simple manner of registration of the workers. "There are huge lapses on the part of the state authorities in implementing state policies and decisions and most of the claims are only on paper causing great miseries and hardship to the migrant workers," it noted.