Supreme Court: 15 days only to ferry migrants

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday pulled up the state governments for their alibis and told them bluntly that a fortnight is all they need to send home all stranded migrant workers. It further asked the states to create job opportunities for migrants returning home and facilitate those wanting to go back to other states for work. Transportation of migrants cannot go on forever, the court said, asserting that the states will have to eventually take care of the migrants. The order came days after the top court last week took suo moto cognisance of the plight of the migrants and passed an interim order on May 28 to facilitate their return home, holding that it was the job of the state to provide them food and transport without charging them for travel; also, that no state can refused to take back the migrant workers returning home.

The 3-judge Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah wanted all state governments to create employment opportunities for the migrants who have already or will reach home in the days to come. The Bench said it would pass directions on Tuesday for fool-proof registration of the incoming migrant workers, stressing that the state governments have to record how many people came into every village; also, counselling must happen in every block and district. It also put the onus on the states to facilitate the migrants' movement if they want to go back to other states for work. The list of migrant workers should be prepared village wise, so that States will know from where they have come and how they have come. The States should also provide a list of the schemes available for them as they can't sit idle and be allowed to die.

The Centre submitted through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that over 1 crore migrants have already reached their native places. Mehta said an investigation into instances of deaths of migrant workers aboard the special trains has revealed that none died on account of lack of food, water or medicines. Those who died were having co-morbidities or suffered a heart attack.

Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Bihar government, told the apex court that around 28 lakh people have returned to the state and that employment opportunities are being worked out for them. “The government of Bihar is taking all steps for providing them employment,” he said. Meanwhile, additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain, representing Delhi, said that around 2 lakh workers are still in the national capital. "They are choosing not to go back. Less than 10,000 workers have expressed a desire to go back to their native places," he added.

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