SC seeks status report on steps to address workers' migration


New Delhi, March 30 The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to file a status report by Tuesday detailing on the steps taken to address issues emerging from exodus of migrant workers from cities to their native villages amid the nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justice L Nageswara Rao, through video conferencing, took up two separate PILs filed by advocates Alakh Alok Srivastava and Rashmi Bansal on the issue connected with migration of labourers amid the coronavirus outbreak.

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The apex court observed the migration of labourers out of panic and fear has become a bigger issue than the coronavirus. Saying the government is dealing with this situation, it said that it would not create more confusion by issuing directions on measures undertaken so far. Instead, the court sought status report from Centre before passing any direction.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, contended the migration of labourers is required to be stopped to prevent the spread of the virus. He insisted the Centre, as well as the state governments concerned, have taken the requisite steps to deal with this situation.

The court will hear the matter further on Tuesday.

Advocate Srivastava, the petitioner in the case, has urged the Centre to immediately redress the heart wrenching and inhuman plight of thousands of migrant workers families -- women, small children, elders and differently-abled persons -- walking on foot for hundreds of kilometers, from cities to their native villages without food, water, transport, medicine or shelter, amid coronavirus crisis.

He said the entire world is witnessing an unprecedented health emergency due to deadly novel coronavirus and expressed solidarity with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement on March 24, calling for 21-day nationwide lockdown to contain the outbreak of coronavirus.

"Such lockdown is very essential for controlling the spread of the deadly Coronavirusa... the biggest sufferers of this crisis situation are the poor, unregistered migrant workers, working in various big cities of India as cycle-rickshaw pullers, rag pickers, construction workers, factory workers, house maids, servants, unskilled and semi-skilled workers etc.", said the petition.