Breaking: AICCTU approaches Karnataka HC after state government cancels all trains for inter-state travel of migrants amid COVID-19 Lockdown
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Breaking: AICCTU approaches Karnataka HC after state government cancels all trains for inter-state travel of migrants amid COVID-19 Lockdown

Rintu Mariam Biju

The All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) has moved the Karnataka High Court challenging the state government's move to cancel all trains that were supposed to transport migrant workers to their respective hometowns.

The plea filed in this regard submits that last night, the state government had decided to cancel all trains that were to transport migrant workers to their hometowns, hours after a meeting was held with representatives of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Associations of India (CREDAI).

It was further mentioned that AICCTU had visited the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre and spoken to several of the workers present there. The workers expressed that they wished to return to their home states and some had even walked over 50 kms to arrive at the Centre. Further, it was stated that these workers were unable to pay rent and had not received wages since March 24.

Adding on, the workers had complained that throughout this entire period, they were not provided food or ration properly and were living in extremely vulnerable conditions, the plea notes.

The plea also points out that not being with their family during times of crisis has significantly depleted their mental health, and has caused severe emotional trauma. The petition further asserts,

"Denial of free and safe transport to their villages and home States is an affront to the right to life of migrant workers and severely erodes human dignity."

It is further submitted that the stand of the state government is in violation of the fundamental rights of the workers protected under Articles 19(1)(d) and Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

"The decision of the State Government to provide free transport to intrastate migrant workers is just and necessary. However, the failure to extend the same to inter-state migrant workers constitutes a blatant violation of their right to equality guaranteed by Article 14. Both interstate migrant workers and intra state migrant workers are persons under Article 14 entitled to the same treatment in law."

The petition goes on to highlight various issues faced by intra-state and inter-state migrant workers, detailed below:

Issues of Intra-state migrant workers

a. Lack of public transport requires workers to walk long distances to the bus stand;

b. No food and water arrangements in the bus stand due to which workers end up waiting for long periods without such basic amenities;

c. Lack of proper information and communication to the workers about bus timings, bus availability and other information;

d. No transportation facilities from districts other than Bangalore;

e. No public transport to their villages on reaching the district headquarters by bus;

f. There are no sanitizers available in the bus stand or on the buses regarding Inter-state migrant workers.

Inter-state migrant workers:

a. The workers are being charged with high ticket prices, therefore they are not in a position to make any payment. It is necessary that charges are waived and free transport is provided;

b. There is lack of information and no clarity on the method of registration of workers in order to be able to travel back – while the Standard Operating Protocol mandates online registration, workers are now informed that they should approach the police station;

c. Lack of public transportation, which clubbed with the lack of information, is causing workers to walk long distances even for information;

d. No train services to the destination states from other railway stations in Karnataka. There are several inter-state migrant workers in other districts, for instance in Mangaluru, in regard to who there is no clarity of further steps;

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