The Madras High Court took suo motu cognisance of the plight of migrant labourers and directed the Centre to spell out how several migrant workers died on their way back to their hometowns.
HC asked the Centre to respond on whether migration is one of the reasons for the rapid spread of coronavirus cases in the country. The court also wants to know if there is any data maintained by the government in connection with migrant labourers.
"One cannot control his/her tears after seeing the pathetic condition of migrant labourers shown in both the print and visual media for the past one month. It is nothing but a human tragedy. When the lockdown was announced by the end of March, lakhs and lakhs of migrants were stranded throughout the country. Most of the workers lost their jobs, so shelter is said to have been provided apart from lack of supply of adequate food..After waiting for a considerable time, they started migrating to their native states by foot. It is very unfortunate that those persons were neglected by the authorities..." the order stated.
HC came down heavily on both the state and the central government for failing to take care of the migrants' safety and well being. The court observed that the government authorities of all states should have extended their 'human services' to those migrant labourers who started walking on foot.
The court also directed the Centre to respond on whether it has instructed the respective states/Union Territories to provide financial assistance, job opportunities in their native states. While observing that the migrant workers and agricultural workforce are neglected in the COVID-19 crisis, the court asked the Central and state governments to file a report on such workers by May 22.
However, the bench observed though the governments have taken care of every section of the society to the maximum extent possible, the guest workers and agricultural workforce were neglected.