The Supreme Court today directed states and union territories to identify and take steps to send ‘stranded’ migrant workers back to their respective villages and towns within 15 days. It directed the Indian Railways to provide Shramik Special trains within 24 hours of request by states.
The court asked state governments and the union to list all schemes of employment for workers who have returned and open counselling centres at block or district level to ensure they are informed of their benefits under the schemes.
The Supreme Court asked the government to provide information to migrant workers about employment opportunities and facilitate those who wish to return to their place of original employment.
The Supreme Court also asked the authorities to identify all migrant workers through registration.
The court said that governments of states and union territories must share information pertaining to employment schemes to migrants. State governments have been asked to facilitate counselling for the returning migrant labourers.
The bench of Supreme Court said, “Centre and states have to prepare a list for identification of migrant workers in a streamlined manner. Employment relief will have to be mapped out and skill-mapping will be carried out to migrant labourers.”
During its last hearing on Friday, the governments of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh had told the Supreme Court that many migrant labourers are unwilling to return to their native states.
The apex court ordered all the complaints and FIRs filed against migrant workers for violating rules to be withdrawn. The matter will now be heard on 8 July.
The court has taken suo motu cognisance of the issue. During the last hearing on 5 June, 15 days is enough for states to send migrant workers – stranded in cities across the country since the imposition of nationwide lockdown – home.
Migrant workers have struggled to get home since the beginning of the lockdown. Many have been left jobless and homeless after their workplaces shut down during the ongoing lockdown that began on 25 March.
Many of these workers have walked hundreds of miles to reach their native places.
In the last hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union government, said the railways had run 4,228 special “Shramik” trains till 3 June and taken 57 lakh people home. He said 41 lakh others have gone home by road, taking the total migrants who have left the cities to nearly one crore. The special “Shramik” trains were started on 1 May by the centre to take migrants stranded by the coronavirus lockdown to their home states.