Migrant Workers
Migrant Workers
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Even after reports of heart-breaking stories of the pathetic condition of migrant workers, nothing has happened in the past month: Madras HC

A Bench headed by Justice Kirubakaran has now directed the State and Central Governments to respond to a list of queries posed by the Court on the Migrant Welfare crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meera Emmanuel

The Madras High Court on Friday expressed its anguish over the pathetic conditions faced by migrant workers in the country amid the COVID-19 crisis, observing that, "Even after the sorrow and suffering of the migrant workers were reported in the media, nothing happened for the past one month as there was no coordinated effort between the States."

The observation was made in an order passed by the Bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and R Hemalatha while hearing a habeas corpus plea to bring back several stranded Tamilian migrant workers from Maharashtra, where they had been detained in the Sangli District.

The Bench observed that, "Though the Governments have taken care of every section of the society to the maximum extent possible, the migrant workers and the agricultural work force are the neglected lot and they are the sufferers to the maximum."

The Court went on to add,

"One cannot control his/her tears after seeing the pathetic condition of migrant labourers shown in the media for the past one month. It is nothing but a human tragedy... It is very unfortunate that those persons were neglected by all the authorities."
Madras High Court

Further it was noted that, "The heart breaking stories are reported in the print as well as visual media that millions of workers were compelled to start walking to their native States with their little children carrying all their belongings over their head, surviving on the food provided by good Samaritans, as no steps were taken by the Governments to help those migrant workers. It is also reported that some people starved to death due to hunger."

The Bench emphasised that in such a scenario, it is not only on the native State of the migrant workers, but also an obligation of the States where these migrant workers work to take care of their safety and well being.

"... it is a pity to see the migrant labourers walking for days together to reach their native places and in the process, some of them had lost their lives due to accidents. The Government authorities of all the States should have extended their human services to those migrant labourers... it is very pathetic to note that neither the native States nor the States through which they were walking all along took care of them and failed to provide even the basic amenities such as food and shelter and even if they had been provided, they were negligible", the Court added.

In this backdrop, the Court intimated that it would like to be appraised of whether there are any coordinate efforts between State Governments with the Central Government to address the suffering of migrant labourers.

In this regard, the Court on Friday impleaded authorities of the Central and State Government, and directed that they respond by May 22 on the following queries posed by the Court:

  1. Whether any data is being maintained by the Government of India regarding the details of migrant workers working in each State/Union Territories in India?

  2. If so, what is the number of migrant workers in each State/Union Territories in India and the details regarding their nativity?

  3. What is the number of migrant workers stranded in each State/Union Territories in India as on today?

  4. What are all the assistance provided to those migrant workers by the respective States as well as the Union Government?

  5. Whether those migrant workers are allowed to cross the State borders or prevented from crossing the borders and if they are prevented, whether they are provided with basic amenities such as food, shelter and medical assistance?

  6. How many migrant workers died on their way to the native States?

  7. To which States/Union Territories, the deceased workers belong to?

  8. What are the relief measures/compensation provided to the families of those migrant workers who lost their lives on their way back to their native States?

  9. How many migrant workers in each State/Union Territories have been evacuated from their working States to their native States through buses/trains throughout India?

  10. What are all the steps taken to transport the remaining people to their native States?

  11. Whether migration of people is one of the reasons for spread of Covid-19?

  12. Whether the Central Government has instructed the respective States/Union Territories to provide financial assistance, job opportunities in their native State/Union Territories for the labourers who migrated from other States?

Read the Order:

A.P.Suryaprakasam v. SP of Police and ors - Madras HC order -May 15.pdf
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