"It is hoped that the South Central Railways would also rush to the rescue of the migrant workers, as it is equally the responsibility of the South Central Railways to help the State Government in transporting the stranded migrant workers out of the State", observed the Telangana High Court on Friday.
Last week, the Chief Justice-led bench had suggested that 2-3 bogies in each train be earmarked for ferrying the migrant workers stranded in the state to their home-towns. On Friday, the division bench was informed on behalf of the railways that it is not willing to add/demarcate certain bogies as Sramik bogies in those trains which are running on a regular basis. Since the regular trains are completely booked till October, it is not possible for the Railways to cancel the tickets, and to substitute the stranded migrant workers in place of the regular passengers, it was submitted.
Further, as regards the direction of the Court to the state to request the south central Railways to restart sramik Trains for the far off destinations of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhan, the bench was told that since there may not be sufficient number of stranded migrant workers (as there are only about 35O migrant workers), who need to be transported to different destinations, the State would unnecessarily be
burdened with huge expenditure for running of the Sramik Trains. Because of this reason, the State is not willing to request the Railways to restart the plying of Sramik Trains. "Since it is the duty of the State to transport the stranded migrant workers, in case Sramilc Trains are required to be plied, the State will be burdened with an expenditure of Rs. 1O,OO lakhs for a single Sramik Train", it was advanced.
In these circumstances, the bench directed the the State Government to consult the South central Railways, and to see if there is a possibility of transporting the stranded migrant workers through Sramik Trains, which may not contain twenty-four bogies, but may be reduced to the number of bogies, which may comfortably carry the migrant workers on their journey back home. The government is also free to request the South Central Railways to reduce the amount to be paid by the State on a pro rata basis.
"Secondly, in case the stranded migrant workers cannot comfortably be transported through the Railways, the State is directed to seriously consider the option of transporting the migrant workers by RTC buses, Of course, the State, is required to look after the needs of the migrant workers during the course of their journey by buses", the Court ordered.
Considering the fact that the transportation issue will require some time to be resolved, and that the migrant workers are presently housed in a very small campus, which is needlessly leading to overcrowding, the Advocate General, is directed to submit the affidavits of the Principal Secretary, Social Welfare Department, and Principal Secretary, Labour with regard to the conditions under which the migrant workers are presently being housed by the Government.
The State Government is directed to immediately take concrete steps for decongesting the small camPus where the migrant workers are presently being housed, and to provide sufficient comfortable accommodation near the Secunderabad RailwayStation. The Government is directed to explore the possibility of housing the migrant workers in one particular complex belonging to the Telangana Housing Board. The Government should also provide bus facility in case the migrant workers need to be brought to the Railway Station so that they can board the trains, if any. It is the duty of the Government to ensure that those migrant workers, who need to travel by trains, are brought to the Railway station 12O minutes Prior to the time for the departure of the train. It is the duty of the railways to ensure
that when the migrant workers are brought through buses, they are ably accommodated while maintaining social distancing and are permitted to safely board the trains.
Lasttg, the State Government is directed that in case the migrant workers were to be accommodated in a separate accommodation, their daily needs aad requirements are duly met and it is ensured that social distancing is being observed and the migrant workers are accommodated in hygienic condition. Since these stranded migrant workers mayinclude pregnant women, lactating women, small children, and elderly persons, the State is directed to ensure that nutritional food for these four categories of persons is duly provided. Moreover, the State should also ensure that there is sufficient medical help to look after these four categories of persons.
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