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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.
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,
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.
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:
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?
If so, what is the number of migrant workers in each State/Union Territories in India and the details regarding their nativity?
What is the number of migrant workers stranded in each State/Union Territories in India as on today?
What are all the assistance provided to those migrant workers by the respective States as well as the Union Government?
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?
How many migrant workers died on their way to the native States?
To which States/Union Territories, the deceased workers belong to?
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?
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?
What are all the steps taken to transport the remaining people to their native States?
Whether migration of people is one of the reasons for spread of Covid-19?
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?