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Ensure transport, food for migrants, SC tells Centre, States

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Ensure transport, food for migrants, SC tells Centre, States

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Supreme Court’s verdict, concerns expressed and ways to address the challenges being faced by migrant labourers.

Context: Supreme court has ordered the Centre and the States to immediately provide transport, food and shelter free of cost to the stranded migrant workers.

The Court took suo motu cognisance of media reports and representations from senior lawyers to step in to protect the fundamental rights of the migrant workers.

What has the Court said?

  • There have been “inadequacies and certain lapses” on the part of the Central and State governments in dealing with the migrant workers’ crisis during the COVID-19 lockdown.
  • The crisis is even continuing today with large sections of migrant labourers still stranded on roads, highways, railway stations and State borders. Effective concentrated efforts were required to redeem the situation.

What’s the issue?

Soon after the lockdown was imposed, migrants by the thousands, who had lost their jobs, started walking back home because no public transport was available. Many were stopped at state borders and sent to shelters. Others continued to walk along train tracks or on highways.

  • In late April, the government announced guidelines for transporting them back home by bus. On May 1, it launched special trains for them, but many continued to walk back home because they did not want to wait for the trains or did not have the documentation required to board them.
  • On May 9, 16 workers walking back home to Madhya Pradesh from Maharashtra, and who had stopped to rest on railway tracks (and fallen asleep) were run over by a goods train.

Significance and implications of the verdict:

  1. The court in its order seemed to have accepted that the problems of migrant labourers are far from over.
  2. The crises of migrant labourers are even continuing today with large sections still stranded on roads, highways, railway stations and State borders.
  3. In the present situation, migrant labourers need “succor and help” and a concentrated effort will be required to redeem the situation.

InstaThink:

Prelims Link:

  1. Rights under Right to Freedom.
  2. What is a PIL?
  3. Powers of Courts to take cases suo motu.
  4. Original and exclusive powers of Supreme Court.
  5. Powers of SC vs HCs.

Mains Link:

Discuss how lockdown has impacted the lives of migrant labourers and what is being done to address their concerns?

Sources: the Hindu.