Many migrant workers, especially those working in the northern states, continue to struggle as they find themselves stranded in the cities, with most work having dried up in the wake of Covid-19. The Supreme Court of India, has now directed the governments of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to “provide dry ration, adequate transport and set up community kitchens for benefit of the migrant labourers” who are in the National Capital Region, reported Bar and Bench.
The directions were issued by the two-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah who reportedly said, “Dry ration be provided to migrant workers in National Capital Region under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme or any other scheme be provided by the Union of India, NCT of Delhi, State of UP and State of Haryana utilising the Public Distribution System prevalent in each State with effect from May, 2021.”
It is crucial to note that the SC has also said that the States authorities “shall not insist on an identity card for those migrant labourers who do not possess (the same) for the time being” while giving these dry rations. A “self-declaration made by the stranded migrant labourers,” should suffice and the dry ration must be given to them, said the Apex Court.
The SC added that the “NCT of Delhi, State of UP and State of Haryana (for the Districts included in the NCR) shall ensure that adequate transport is provided to stranded migrant labourers (in the National Capital Region) who want to return home.” It has directed that the “District Administration in coordination with Police Administration may identify such stranded migrant labourers and facilitate their transport either by road transport or train.”
According to the news report the court also asked the Centre to “consider issuing necessary instructions to the Ministry of Railways to take necessary and adequate measures to cater the need of migrant labourers”. The governments of Delhi, UP and Haryana have also been directed “to open community kitchen at well-advertised places (in the National Capital Region) for stranded migrant labourers so that they and their family members who are stranded could get two meals a day.”
So far, just like it was seen last year, it has mostly been the citizen groups, NGOs, religious congregations who have been offering food to the stranded migrant workers, as well as those stranded at home and ill with Covid-19. On Thursday the SC directed both the Central government as well as the State Governments of Delhi, UP and Haryana to file a reply suggesting means and measures by which they shall ease miseries of stranded migrant labourers in the Districts that are included in the National Capital Region.
According to B&B, this order was passed on an application by activists Harsh Mander, Anjali Bhardwaj and Jagdeep Chhokar, who had moved an urgent application before the SC seeking directions to ensure that migrant workers are not deprived of ration and food security and are able to travel back to their homes at nominal cost. The application was filed in the suo motu case initiated by the top court in 2020 to deal with migrant labourer crisis during the national lockdown, stated the news reports. According to the applicants even though states have been imposing “decentralised Covid-19 curfews” and lockdowns more cautiously this year, "they have offered little welfare support to working classes and migrants whose livelihoods are at sea once again." They added that “a second exodus of migrant workers who are flocking train and bus terminals in urban centres in a bid to get back home," has been triggered.
In 2020, SabrangIndia had chronicled how the Covid-19 pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. These heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now, may be read here.
A few days ago the Delhi High Court directed, Delhi government to formulate a scheme for migrant and unorganised sector workers under The Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 and to ensure registration of migrant workers. The bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Asha Menon took cognisance of the current crisis and stated that a structured response by the administration is required to provide relief to migrant workers.
The petition was filed seeking registration of all migrant workers of Delhi under Section 10 of The Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 and to provide free medicines and medical facilities to them. The petition also seeks directions to the respondents to fulfil its obligations under The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 and to pay monies under the income transfer scheme to all migrant workers of Delhi.
Courtesy: Sabrang India