Migrant workers have faced several problems during the coronavirus lockdown
Migrant workers have faced several problems during the coronavirus lockdown
SHAMMI MEHRA - PTI

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, pulled up the Maharashtra government for claiming that there are no problems related to the migrant workers and asked it to file a fresh affidavit listing the steps taken to mitigate their problems and who are still waiting to return to their native places.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MR Shah, while hearing the suo motu case on the migrant crisis during COVID-19 pandemic, showed gaps in the state government's affidavit and asserted that it is the state government's responsibility to find out whether the migrants are getting food and other facilities.

"Your affidavit says food is being provided to all migrants, but we think it is far from the truth," Justice Shah told the Maharashtra government counsel and pulled him saying, "you have treated this as an adversarial litigation" despite the fact that the court had taken up the matter suo motu, seeing the plight of the migrant workers. The bench said a large number of migrant workers are still stuck in Maharashtra for not getting any help to return to the native places.

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, representing Bihar, contended before the bench that in Bihar reverse migration is happening, as migrants want to go back to the cities. His contention was also backed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that trains from Bihar and UP are running full, showing the reverse migration.

Mehta, representing the Maharashtra government, submitted that the trend is that migrants' wish to return to the cities, which is their place of employment. "In Maharashtra, migrants who wanted to leave earlier have now decided to stay back, as the state has opened up employment opportunities. From May 1, around 3,50,000 workers came back to work again," said Mehta.

He said those who wanted to migrate were helped and those who went back may not be getting jobs as per their skills, like a carpenter cannot work as a labourer in an agricultural field and so they are returning from their homes, realising that they cannot sustain from work in the field.

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