India's Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered states to identify stranded migrant workers and transport them back to their hometowns within 15 days even as the humanitarian crisis surrounding their movement has continued over weeks of lockdown.
A three-judge bench also directed state governments to consider
withdrawing cases filed against the workers under the Disaster
Management Act for lockdown violations, including crowding at rail
stations, legal news website Live Law reported.
The court also asked federal and state governments to formulate a
scheme for providing employment to the migrants and establish
helpdesks to give them jobs after mapping their skills, the report
India's nationwide lockdown since March 25 has left millions out of
work and resulted in a mass exodus from urban centres to villages,
with workers trying to get home on trains and buses. Some groups even
set off on foot.
A number of migrant deaths on the road have been reported, both from
exposure to the sweltering heat and a lack of food and water. Even
though the lockdown has eased and is limited to containment zones,
the large-scale movement continues.
Last month, the court asked state governments not to charge the
workers for their train or bus journeys and asked them to arrange for
food and water.
In the last hearing, the government said it had arranged to transport
almost 10 million migrant workers home by trains and buses since May
However, opposition politicians estimate many of India's 40 million
workers in cities want to get home and it could take several months
to arrange journeys for such labourers.
Migrant labourers and their families from Chhattisgarh sit during a protest held against the government to demand their return to their native places outside the Amritsar railway station after the government eased a nationwide lockdown imposed as a preventive measure against the coronavirus, in Amritsar on June 7