The Supreme Court on Thursday, issuing a number of directions relating to migrants workers stranded in Delhi-NCR due to COVID-19 lockdown, ordered Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh governments (for districts included in the NCR) to provide dry ration, open community kitchens and ensure proper transportation for those wanting to return to their home districts.
A Bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice MR Shah directed Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to open community kitchens at well-advertised places (in NCR) for stranded migrant labourers so that they and their family members can get two meals a day.
It further directed the Centre, Delhi, UP, Haryana governments to provide dry ration to migrant workers in NCR region under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme or any other scheme utilising the Public Distribution System (PDS) from May.
The top court ordered that while providing dry ration, the authorities will not insist on an identity card for those migrant labourers who do not possess it for the time being and it will be given to them on self-declaration.
It further ordered the governments of three states to ensure that adequate transport is provided to stranded migrant labourers in NCR who want to return to their homes.
“The district administration in coordination with police administration may identify such stranded migrant labourers and facilitate their transport either by road transport or train,” the order said.
It added that the the Union of India (UoI) may also issue necessary instructions to Ministry of Railways to take necessary and adequate measures to cater the need of migrant labourers.
It also issued notice to Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Bihar governments to file their replies giving the details of the measures which they propose to take to ameliorate the miseries of migrant workers regarding transportation and providing dry ration as well as cooked meals to them.
The court has posted the matter for hearing on May 24.
The plea was filed by activists Harsh Mander, Anjali Bhardwaj and Jagdeep Chhokar seeking urgent directions from the court to ensure food security, cash transfers, and other measures for the migrant labourers as well as provision of transport facility for their travel back home.
The application was filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan in the 2020 suo motu case on COVID-19 crisis.
It was submitted that the problems and difficulties faced by migrant workers during the lockdown in 2020 have persisted over the past year due to the continued economic distress and now have got aggravated on account of fresh restrictions, curfews and lockdowns being imposed in many states to control the spread of COVID-19.
The plea also said that even though states have been imposing de-centralised COVID-19 curfews and lockdowns more cautiously this year, they have offered little welfare support to working classes and migrants whose livelihoods have been hit once again.