India: Urging administrations to acknowledge the “harsh realities” facing migrant workers affected by the second wave of Covid-19, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Centre and the governments of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to provide dry ration and meals to labourers in the National Capital Region (NCR), apart from ensuring proper transportation back home.
A bench of justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah issued the interim directives while seeking detailed replies from the state governments on steps being taken to ameliorate the misery of the stranded migrant workers.
Starting immediately, the bench ordered that dry ration should be given to migrant workers in the NCR under Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme, or any other scheme be provided by the Centre or states utilising the public distribution system.
“While providing dry ration, the authorities of the states shall not insist on an identity card for those migrant labourers who do not possess it for the time being. On self-declaration made by the stranded migrant labourers, dry ration be given to them,” it said.
In order to make certain that the migrant workers and their families get at least two meals a day, the court directed the governments of Delhi, UP and Haryana to open community kitchens and advertise this.
The bench asked the states to ensure that adequate transport is provided to stranded migrant labourers who wanted to return to their home. “The district administration, in coordination with police, may identify such stranded migrant labourers and facilitate their transport either by road transport or train. The Union of India may also issue necessary instructions to the Ministry of Railways…” it further directed.
The migrant worker crisis came under sharp focus shortly after the nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25 last year. Hundreds of thousands of workers spilled out on highways and began walking back home. In Parliament last year, the government said estimates put this number at around 11 million while activists say the number is much higher.