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In an order passed yesterday, the Karnataka High Court has directed the state government to ensure that the entire process of transporting migrants outside the state be conducted smoothly and that the government-issued social distancing rules are not breached in the process.
A Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Abhay Sreeniwas Oka and Justice BV Nagarathna on Tuesday noted that there are two categories of migrant workers wishing to travel. The first category is of the migrant workers who want to go back to their respective homes within the State and the second category is of those migrant workers who want to go back to their respective houses in other States.
Pertaining to the second category of migrant workers, the Court was informed by the counsel appearing for the PUCL that owing to absence of clarity, migrant workers have been gathering at various places in large numbers.
To illustrate, the Court was told that about four thousand migrant workers had assembled at Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC) ground on Tumkur Road in the city.
Considering this issue, the Court has passed the following directions to the State:
Place on record the manner in which State will facilitate the traveling of migrant workers outside the State;
Formulate a policy decision taken by the State Government pertaining to the cost of traveling;
Ensure that this process must be conducted smoothly by making certain that the migrant workers who wish to move outside get proper assistance in terms of the Registration procedure;
Place on record whether the process of screening of the migrant workers who wish to travel outside the State is being undertaken.
The Court was informed by the Additional Advocate General that free transportation was being provided to the migrant workers by KSRTC buses within the State.
On this aspect, the State Government was directed to specify whether the workers who are permitted to travel from one district to another are subjected to medical check up for symptoms of COVID-19.
As for migrant workers choosing not to travel, the Court emphasised that the State should provide them with food in the form of cooked food or ration kits, etc.
On a related note, the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) has now moved an Interlocutory application in the matter challenging the state government's move to cancel all trains that were supposed to transport migrant workers to their respective hometowns. This decision was taken after a meeting with representatives of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Associations of India (CREDAI).
The matter will be next heard on May 12.