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Mumbai: Taking note of the fact that the 'unavailability' of proper transportation for migrant workers has forced them to walk back to their homes, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has ordered state authorities to form a special team to monitor the issue.

The court has said that this team shall make a list of such migrants, who are walking on roads and highways, which would then be used to provide buses for them to travel back to their native places.

A bench of Justice Madhav Jamdar has accordingly directed all the district collectors, municipal authorities and police commissioners across Maharashtra to form these special teams and monitor all highways and arrange for their transportation till their respective state borders.

The bench had taken up a suo motu (on its own) petition pertaining to the plight of migrants, daily wagers and others who are stranded across the state and are heading to their native places on foot, on highways and other roads.

"The lockdown imposed due to the pandemic has triggered mass movement of migrant workers, who are trying to return to their native places since most of them have lost their jobs," Justice Jamdar noted.

The judge further noted that even as the authorities are "sympathetic" to the condition of these migrant workers, the unavailability of proper transport facilities has compelled these workers to walk back to their native places.

"The special team shall accumulate all those persons who are walking on these roads and highways at one place, and then arrange for their travel till their state border," Justice Jamdar said.

"The teams shall inform either the district collector or the concerned police commissioner or superintendent of police about the number of stranded persons. These authorities will then request the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) to arrange for buses to ferry these persons to the state border," Justice Jamdar added.

The order was passed after considering the submissions of Deven Chauhan, the amicus curiae (friend of the court). In his submissions, Chauhan said that certain points must be marked on the highways as bus stands, so that the MSRTC could make their buses available at these points.

He also urged the bench to issue directives to the authorities to erect temporary shelters with basic facilities such as beds, fans and toilets along with check-up camps, for these migrants. Having heard the submissions, Justice Jamdar has asked the government to file its response on the issue, and has posted the matter for further hearing on May 15.

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