The State government informed the Bombay High Court on Friday that currently there is no demand from migrant workers for shramik trains to be taken back to their native places. Court had directed the State to file a report regarding those migrant workers whose application for leaving the State through special Shramik trains and buses are pending.
Division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta was hearing the PIL filed by Centre of Indian Trade Unions contending that such stranded migrant workers have been left in the dark about the status of their pending applications and for the time being they have been made to live in cramped and unhygienic shelters, without being provided with food and other essentials.
However, Advocate General AA Kumbhakoni appeared for the State and submitted that until June 1, a total of 822 Shramik trains have been arranged for approximately 11.87 lakh workers who travelled to their native states during the ongoing pandemic.
Moreover, the Court was informed that around ₹210 crore has been spent towards food packets and drinking water, ₹97.69 crore towards train fare and ₹21 crore towards bus fare in order to ensure free and safe travel for the migrant workers back to their native states.
As per the affidavit submitted by the State, as on April 10, some 6.66 lakh migrant workers were staying at the relief camps made for them and by May 31, the total number went down to 37994.
Procedure adopted for sending back migrant labourers through Shramik special trains and buses had been initiated by the end of April. Migrants intending to return to their native places were asked to fill up a form available at the local police station. After receiving the requisite number of applications, the state sends a request to the concerned state to permit the applicants to return home, Kumbhakoni said.
It was further added that while awaiting the response of the state regarding these applications, the migrants were kept in relief camps where they were provided with food, water and medical screening free of cost. The migrants were given food packets and water for their journey in trains and buses as well.
The affidavit states-
"With regard to Shramik trains, there remains only one train which is scheduled to depart for Manipur. Apart from the said train, the state government does not have any demand pending from migrant labourers for arranging a special train."
Also, other trains apart from Shramik trains have resumed services from June 1, State informed the bench. Still, if there is any such demand from migrants in the future, travel arrangements will be made, AG Kumbhakoni said.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh also stated that if there is such demand, Railways will arrange more trains.
Thus, Court adjourned the matter and the next date of hearing is June 9.