The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the state government to ensure that basic necessities like food, drinking water, medicines, healthcare, and hygienic toilet facilities are provided to migrant workers who have been left stranded for weeks in face of the current lockdown due to the pandemic of COVID-19.
Justice AA Sayed heard the PILs filed by Sarva Hara Jan Andolan and Ghar Bachao and Ghar Banao Andolan together. Both PILs are about the implementation of the various schemes of the Central and State Government as regards the benefits being made available to all migrant workers and the marginalised sections of the society.
AGP BV Samant and AGP MM Pabale appeared for the state and submitted that the state government has set up 4871 relief camps and about 7.5 lakh migrant labourers have been accommodated and are being provided 3 meals a day.
Furthermore, a common help-line has been provided in each district and 5 kgs food grain per person has been provided free of cost under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.
However, petitioner's counsel Senior Advocate Gayatri Singh submitted that though various advisories have been issued by the Central and State Government and there are several schemes in place, there is no implementation of the same by the State authorities and the benefits are not reaching the migrant laborers and homeless persons. There is no proper response to the help-lines and there are several areas where there is no water, food, medicines and healthcare, and toilet facilities made available, she emphasized.
"Undoubtedly, the State Government is facing an uphill task in the present scenario of Covid-19 pandemic and the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 being invoked."
Furthermore, the bench observed that there is a scheme in place for victims of disasters through the Legal Services Authorities to ensure immediate help to the victims by Government and Non-Government Agencies.
"Under the said scheme, the State Legal Services Authorities are required to co- ordinate the implementation of the plan of action prepared by the Disaster Management Authorities and supervise the transferring victims of disaster to shelters and the distribution of food, drinking water, medicines and healthcare, to such victims. Since it is the grievance of the Petitioners that the benefits of the advisories and schemes of the Central/State Government are not reaching all the victims, in my view, the District Legal Services Authorities can play an effective role by coordinating the activities of the State Government authorities", Court said.
The court directed the petitioners to District Collectors in the concerned areas where facilities are not being provided.
Finally, directing the Advocate General of Maharashtra to appear in the matter, Justice Sayed observed-
"In my view, the first and foremost endeavour of the State Government must be that no victims go hungry and the food/food-grains reach all victims (even in remote areas), and State Government must be that no victims go hungry and the food/food-grains reach all victims (even in remote areas), and drinking water, medicines, healthcare and hygienic toilet facilities are provided to them. So far as other grievances highlighted by the Petitioners are concerned, that can be considered at a later stage."
Next date of hearing the case is April 15.
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