Centre denies migrant workers died of hunger, lack of medication

Supreme Court wants migrants home in 15 days

Centre denies migrant workers died of hunger, lack of medication

SC reserves order on migrant workers issue

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 5

The Centre, on Friday, told the Supreme Court that no death of migrant workers on the Sharamik Special Trains happened due to lack of food, water or medication.

During the hearing on a PIL on the plight of migrant workers before a Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta denied any negligence on the part of the Railways and the GRP.

The reported deaths happened due to pre-existing ailments, Mehta told the Bench, which also included Justice SK Kaul and Justice MR Shah.

He said as many as 4,228 trains have sent home over one crore migrant workers till June 3 and 90 per cent of them had already reached their native places. He, however, said 171 more trains were needed.

After hearing the detailed arguments from advocates representing the Centre, states, Union Territories and others, the Bench said it would pronounce its verdict on June 9.

During the hearing, it said all migrants, who wanted to go back home, should be sent within 15 days.

Last month, it had taken ‘suo motu’ cognisance of migrant workers’ miseries and ordered the states to provide them free food, shelter and travel.

On Friday, it suggested all migrants should be registered at block and district level and states should take care of them.

“States will have to generate employment for them. They should facilitate their movement if they want to go back to other states for work,” it noted.

The Maharashtra government counsel told the Bench that more than 11 lakh migrants went back home and only 38,000 were left now.

The Delhi government counsel submitted that approximately four lakh migrant workers went back and only 10,000 remained.

Senior advocate AM Singhvi said it was important to collate and publish data on the total number of migrants stranded, how many of them wanted to return home and the number of those already left while senior advocate Kapil Sibal talked about the minimum standards for food and water supplied to migrant workers.

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