Urgent plea in SC to direct govt to revive ration scheme, ensure transport facility for migrant labourers
Plea filed by Harsh Mander, Anjali Bhardwaj and Jagdeep Chhokar also seeks cash transfers equivalent to notified minimum wage of different states to all migrant workers during lockdowns/restrictions
Activists Harsh Mander, Anjali Bhardwaj and Jagdeep Chhokar on Thursday moved an urgent application before the Supreme Court seeking directions to the government to ensure that the migrant and stranded labourers are not deprived of ration and food security and are able to travel back to their homes at nominal cost.
The applicants contended 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 sea once again."
"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 application stated, as per a report carried by Bar & Bench.
The application, filed in the 2020 suo motu case by Advocate Prashant Bhushan, sought directions to the Central government to resume its scheme of providing dry rations under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat scheme to all 8 crore migrant labourers who are not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) or state 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.
The activists 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.
Further, the applicants submitted that the Central and state governments should provide transport by buses and rails at nominal fare to such migrant labourers while ensuring adherence to COVID protocol.
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/restrictions.
The applicants urged the top court to direct Centre and states to place in the public domain details of the social and food security schemes put in place for providing relief to migrant works and ensure wide publicity to the same in such form including setting up of time-bound grievance redressal mechanisms.