Bombay High Court acknowledges COVID-19 Lockdown adversely affecting the life of Migrant workers, directs Central & State Govt. to take appropriate decision

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Coronavirus lockdown makes the life of migrant workers very difficult. Three Public Interest Litigations have been filed in the Bombay High Court regarding the issues faced by migrant workers/labourers, slum dwellers and homeless persons across the state since the lockdown.  Justice Ravish Deshpande said that inter-state migration of the workers and labourers is an issue, which is to be tackled by the Central Government in consultation with the State Government. The petitioners were represented by the Senior Counsel Gayatri Singh and Kranti L C.

The Bombay High Court said the government could consider permitting such workers to return to their native places within the state, as it would ease the burden on the administration. Some of the stranded workers are facing many problems at the time of lockdown. The petitioner requested that if migrants needed to transfer between two states, they should be tested for COVID-19. This way, they can ensure the workers are not carrying the virus and reduce the spread of the virus in rural areas. She added the state of Maharashtra be directed to strictly implement its schemes as help was not reaching several of those stranded. However, the biggest issue continued to be sanitization. People in slums do not even have water to clean their slums.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni assured that a State Level Committee set up to address the grievances of migrant workers and daily wage labours would look into the court’s suggestions. District-level Committees shall look into the grievances faced by stranded migrant workers and daily wage labours about the availability of water, food, shelter, and other facilities.

The Aurangabad Bench of Bombay High Court has directed collectors to prepare a data of all migrant workers stranded in their districts. The bench headed by Justice R V Ghuge was hearing a petition on the condition of migrant workers. The data should focus on if there are any shelter home for taking care of such people who are unable to travel back to their home. The court added, the collectors shall also inform the court whether any efforts have been taken by the local administrations to arrange a psychological counselling facility for such migrants, to ensure they are not driven to any extreme step or do not suffer psychological trauma. The stranded workers are facing the problem and a survey is to be conducted. The Central Government or State Government should take an appropriate decision. The Collectors have to submit their Survey Report on May 4.

The court directives come two days after over 1000 migrant workers gathered outside Bandra Railway Station in Mumbai, hoping to go back to their hometowns in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal. The Bombay Police had to baton charge the workers to drive them from the place. The court will hear the case on May 4.


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