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Niyalya se

Migrant workers must be sent home in 15 days, says SC

June 10, 2020 05:25 AM

courtesy ht june 10

Migrants must be sent home in 15 days, says SC
Migrant workers must be sent home in 15 days, says SC

Thousands of migrant workers were stranded across the country due to the lockdown, first enforced on March 25.PTI
Abraham Thomas

New Delhi : States and Union territories received a time-bound mandate on Tuesday from the Supreme Court to ensure the return of all migrant workers stranded by the post-coronavirus lockdown to their home states within a fortnight and to inform the apex court within the same deadline about welfare programmes, including job opportunities, they plan to offer the returnees.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court,headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and comprising justices SK Kaul and MR Shah, is expected to pass directions on the matter on July 8, the next date of hearing.

To mitigate the plight faced by the migrants, the Supreme Court asked states and Union territories to identify migrant workers who have returned at the district and block levels and prepare an inventory of the vocational skills they possess and their employment history.

In addition, they were asked to set up counselling centres to provide the workers information on welfare schemes and employment avenues that are open to them; they will also have to advise workers who want to go back to where they were employed.

Millions of workers and daily-wage earners left the big cities and returned to states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal in the aftermath of the lockdown enforced on March 25 to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

These directions follow the May 28 order whereby the court took suo moto (Latin for on its own) cognizance of the hardships faced by migrants returning to their villages. After going through the responses of all states/UTs on the transport of the migrant workers, the bench of justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah said: “Police officers of states, paramilitary forces wherever deployed are doing a commendable job but some instances of excess with regard to migrant labourers are also there.”

The court asked the states/UTs to consider withdrawing all prosecution proceedings or complaints lodged against the returning workers for violating the lockdown and norms of social distancing enforced under Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act.

The court also noted lapses on part of the states and central agencies in implementing welfare schemes as pointed out in intervention applications filed by non-government organisations and individuals.

The court said in its 38-page order, “We impress on States and Union Territories to streamline the vigilance and supervision of actions of their officers and staff and take appropriate action where required.”

On the transportation of migrant workers, the court was convinced that much of the task had been completed, barring in Delhi, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat where some migrants are still stranded. The bench said: “We direct that all the States/Union Territories to transport all stranded workers by train, bus or other mode within 15 days from today.”

So far, some 9.8 million migrants have been transported by rail and road across the country beginning May 1. Some 171 trains are still lined up for shifting the remaining, still stranded migrants until June 16. The court directed Indian Railways to arrange Shramik Special trains within 24 hours of request by states.

Finding gaps in the registration of migrants (in difficulties they face while filling up the registration forms such as language barriers), the court called for a “decentralizing” of the process of registration by providing this facility to stranded migrant workers at police stations and other places of local administration.

In addition, states/UTs were asked to publicise journey dates of special trains and buses in local newspapers and television channels.

Once they arrive at their destinations, the court directed states to gather details of migrant workers, the nature of their skill, and place of their earlier employment at the village level, block level and district level. Counselling centres would provide these migrants information about government schemes and avenues of employment so that this workforce can be utilised as a resource, the bench said.

A list of all such schemes, including employment has to be tendered by Centre and states to the court in two weeks

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