States will be given a fortnight to transport migrants to their hometown: Supreme Court

ST Staff
Friday, 5 June 2020

The court stated that the period of the fortnight will be enough to shift the stranded migrants to their hometown, adding that it will announce the complete order on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court, on Friday, declared that the States will be given 15 days optimum time to transport all the migrants stranded in various cities to their respective hometowns as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc worldwide. The court stated that the period of the fortnight will be enough to shift the stranded migrants to their hometown, adding that it will announce the complete order on Tuesday. 

Earlier, the Supreme Court had passed several orders on transporting the migrants to their home. The central government has asked the Supreme Court to focus on transporting the migrants home and to keep the new quarantine guidelines on hold for the time being.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that 4,228 special “Shramik” trains were operating under Indian railways and 57 lakh people had reached their home safely. He also confirmed that the government transported a crore migrant workers to their hometowns including 41 lakh people who travelled to their destinations by road. He also said that the trains mostly travelled to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

“We have on record a chart which shows how many workers are yet to be shifted and how many trains are required for it. The States have also prepared charts,” Mehta was quoted in a report from NDTV.

The three justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah after going through the charts, brought into notice that Maharashtra requested only one train. In response to that, Mr Mehta said, “Yes, we have already run 802 trains from Maharashtra.”

“What we intend to do is we will give you and the states 15 days to transport all migrants. All states bring on record how they will provide employment and other kinds of relief. There should be a registration of migrants,” the court said.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, representing the Delhi government was quoted as saying, “2 lakh workers are still in Delhi. They are choosing not to go back. Less than 10,000 workers have expressed a desire to go back to their native places”.

The Uttar Pradesh government said in a statement that no tickets were charged for the “Shramik” special trains. “At no point of time did the state charge the migrant labourers. The obligation of states is two-fold. We have to send those migrants back who were in UP as well. 104 special trains were organised to send back 1.35 lakh people.” said Narasimha Rao representing Uttar Pradesh government. 

The government also added that no one wants to leave the State, and the UP residents were working in several parts of the country. However, they have managed to bring 5.5 lakhs migrants from Delhi and buses brought around 10,000 people.

Appearing for the migrant labourers, advocate Colin Gonsalves stated that the registration system was not functioning which is restricting the migrants from registering. “Two high courts have made observations on the registration system. It needs to be simplified,” the media outlet quoted the advocate.

However, various states went through the data and have gathered details on the migrants who have reached their hometown.

The special “Shramik” trains were permitted to run over a month by the government after the lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic which was announced in March in the view of the difficulties faced by the migrants who lost their livelihood. They started the trains when the helpless migrants were walking hundreds of kilometres to reach home as public transport was ceased.

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