Free journey home for migrants! SC says no fare to be collected

The court said all stranded migrant workers shall be provided food by the concerned states and UTs

Migrants
About 2,500 passengers escaped from Hatia railway station (Ranchi) without testing. | Representational pic

The Supreme Court on Thursday (May 28) directed that the migrants seeking to return home amid the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown shall be not charged for their travel by bus or train and that they be provided food and water.

The apex court, which passed interim directions, said all migrant workers who are stranded at various places shall be provided food by the concerned states and union territories (UTs) at places which shall be publicised and notified to them for the period they are waiting for their turn to board a train or a bus.

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said that the originating state shall provide meals and water at the station and during the journey, the Railways would provide the same to the migrant workers. It said that food and water be also provided to them for travel in buses.

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The Supreme Court bench, which also comprised Justices SK Kaul and MR Shah, directed that states oversee the registration of migrant workers and ensure that they are made to board the train or bus at the earliest.

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The court said that complete information in this regard should be publicised to all concerned. It further observed that it is presently concerned with the miseries and difficulties faced by the migrant workers who are trying to return home.

It said that though there is no doubt that concerned state governments and UTs are taking steps, several lapses have been issued in the process of registration, transportation and providing food water to the migrants.

“We are not disputing the fact that Centre has not taken steps. But whoever needs help is not getting that help. States are not doing their bit,” said Justice Bhushan, according to Bar and Bench. His remark came after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta apprised the court of the steps taken by the Centre to deal with the crisis faced by migrant workers.

Mehta informed the court that about 91 lakh migrants have been transported so far since the Shramik Special trains started operating on May 1. “The Centre and states are working above political and party lines so that mitigation measures are taken. We have shifted 1.85 lakh migrants per day,” the report quoted him as saying.

(With inputs from agencies)

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