Coming to the rescue of various brick kiln workers stranded in the state, the High Court of Telangana has issued a slew of directions to the State Government to ensure that the workers are transported back to their native places and in the interregnum, are provided with adequate facilities to lead a dignified life.
The direction has been passed by a Chief Justice led Division Bench in a PIL raising concern over the condition of brick kiln workers, spread across the state.
In view of the submissions made by Advocate Vasudha Nagaraj, counsel for the Petitioners, the court has ordered the Deputy Commissioners, Labour to inspect the brick kilns within their jurisdiction and ascertain the number of workers who would like to return to their respective native States.
Further the Principal Secretary, Labour has been directed to lodge such persons in shelter homes at Secunderabad, Hyderabad and other convenient places, and ensure adequate supply of food, water, medicines, etc., until they transported back.
It is particularly directed to ensure that "the shelter homes housing the pregnant women, lactating mothers, children, and elderly persons, medical facilities are provided for their medical health issues. Moreover, nutritious food is provided for these group of persons on a daily basis."
As regards the transportation mechanism, the bench also comprised by Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy has ordered the State to ensure that the migrant workers who are brought to Secunderabad, Hyderabad, etc. are permitted to board the trains from Secunderabad Railway Stations, or to board buses from the Secunderabad or Hyderabad Bus Stations.
The court has ordered the Government to coordinate with the relevant authorities and arrange inter-state buses and trains for their movement.
"The State Government should seriously consider the use of RTC buses to transport the migrant workers from Secundarabad, Medchal and from any other part of the State, to their respective States," the court ordered after Advocate Nagaraj apprised the court that most of the migrant workers stranded in the state belonged to neighboring states of Orissa, Chhatisgarh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
To ensure that the workers are transported safely even across the state borders, the bench directed,
"the State should also inform the neighbouring State, and should coordinate with the neighbouring States with regard to the movement of the migrant workers on the buses, and their arrival at the border check-posts."
With respect to transportation via Shramik Trains the bench ordered,
"The State Government should coordinate with the Railway Department, and should request the Railway Department to:
(i) increase the number of Sramik Trains not only for the neighbouring States, but also for destinations to other Indian States such as Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan;
(ii) in case the number of Sramik Trains cannot be increased, then to request the Railways Department to attach four bogies specially marked for the migrant workers with the Special Trains, which are now being plied by the Railways. Those migrant workers, who are travelling in these specially marked four bogies, and those migrant workers travelling in Sramik Trains, shall not be charged any fees for their travel in compliance with the directions issued by the Hon'ble Supreme Court."
It is stated that the Government will be free to consider whether the brick kiln workers should be permitted to leave the State from the nearest Train Station or Bus Station of the places where they are working. However, even in such places, the bench cautioned,
"the brick kiln workers are to be looked after by the State Government, and it is the duty of the State Government to ensure that while the brick kiln workers depart from Telangana, they are not charged with any travel fare, either by the Railways Department, or by the RTC."
The travel arrangement has to be made in compliance with the Supreme Court's direction in "IN RE: Problems and Miseries of Migrant Labourers" whereby all the states were directed to ensure free of cost travel for migrant workers.
Adequate Food Shelter And Transport To Be Immediately Provided By Centre, States Free Of Costs To Migrant Workers :SC Takes Suo Motu Cognisance Of Migrant Issues
Further considering the fact that the migrant workers are illiterate and mostly belong from non-Telugu speaking states, the Government has been directed to evolve a simpler form of registration process and data collection for their transportation on Sramik Trains/Special Trains, or on RTC buses.
Lastly, the State Government has been asked to evolve a "comprehensive policy" to deal with the migrant workers, both presently, as well as in case of any future calamity.
A compliance report on the above directions has to be filed by the State Government by June 8, 2020.
The Indian Courts have been actively passing detailed directions to secure the Fundamental rights of the migrant workers stranded in various states across the country. The following links may be accessed to read the orders passed by other high courts:
Click Here To Download Order