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COVID-19: Plea in SC to direct Centre to ensure ration, transport facility for migrant labourers

ANI | Updated: Apr 29, 2021 19:05 IST

New Delhi [India], April 29 (ANI): A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday seeking directions to ensure that the migrant and stranded labourers get ration and food security and they are also able to travel back to their homes at nominal cost amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plea was filed by activists Harsh Mander, Anjali Bhardwaj and Jagdeep Chhokar. It sought urgent directions from the court to ensure food security, cash transfers and other measures for the migrant labourers as well as provision of their transport facility in order to travel back their hometown.
The fresh application was filed in the suo moto case initiated last year by the top court on COVID-19 crisis.
It sought directions from the Central government to resume its scheme of providing dry rations under the Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme to all 8 crore migrant labourers who are not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) or state Public Distribution System (PDS) cards and were identified under the said scheme last year.
The application stated that the scheme was started last year after the migrant crisis escalated but was kept operational only for two months till June, 2020, and was discontinued thereafter.
They also urged the top court to direct the Central and the state governments to provide free cooked food through networks of community kitchens, hunger relief and feeding centres especially at places where distressed migrant workers are congregating such as industrial areas, homeless shelters, bus stations, train stations and other areas to ensure no one remains hungry.
They submitted that the problems and miseries faced by migrant workers during the last year's lockdown 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 transmission of COVID-19.
"Migrant workers are again bearing the brunt of these policies and urgent intervention is required to address the following issues - a) loss of livelihood and means of income on account of the restrictions and lockdowns resulting in people being unable to pay for basic needs like food, rent, etc.., and b) lack of proper arrangement for safe and free travel back to their hometowns and villages when lockdowns are announced," stated the plea.
The application also said that 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 stake once again.
The plea further mentioned, "This has triggered a second exodus of migrant workers who are flocking train and bus terminals in urban centres in a bid to get back home."
The Central and state governments should provide transport by buses and rails at nominal fare to such migrant labourers while ensuring adherence to COVID-19 protocols, said the application.
It also sought the indulgence of the court to direct Central and the state governments to jointly and severally ensure cash transfers equivalent to the notified minimum wage of different states to all migrant workers for the period economic activity is adversely impacted by lockdowns or restrictions. (ANI)