"It will be in the interest of State, to transport the migrant workers as soon as possible out of the State", observed the Telangana High Court on Wednesday.
"For, while the migrant workers are within the borders of our State, it is the duty of the State to look after their personal, and physical needs, which undoubtedly imposes a great financial burden on the State exchequer", the Chief Justice-led bench explained.
By order, dated 02.06.2020, this Court had directed the Deputy Commissioners, Labour, to collect information with regard to the number of labourers working in the brick kiln industry. On Wednesday, the bench noted that according to the Reports submitted by the Advocate General, there are 16,253 labourers working in the brick kiln industry. Out of whom 373 workers have been transported. Since there are about 15,880 brick kiln workers who are still stranded in the State, the Advocate General submitted that since these workers are from Odisha, efforts are being made to transport them through the five trains, which are scheduled for Thursday to Odisha.
It was claimed before the division bench that a large migrant population is still stranded within the State, and especially at Secunderabad Railway Station. Therefore, it was prayed that this Court should direct the Railways to either increase the number of Shramik Trains, or to designate certain bogies to the Trains, which are leaving Secunderabad, and Hyderabad area.
The Counsel for the Railways informed the Court that there are certain practical difficulties in attaching extra bogies to trains, For, each train contains twenty-four bogies with a total length of 800 meters. If extra bogies were attached, the length of the train increases, which will not be commensurate with the length of the platform. Moreover, in increasing the Shramik Trains, the Railways may incur greater loss. Furthermore, since the bogies are dedicated for COVID-I9 patients, the Railways cannot effort to attach extra bogies to a given train.
"Considering the difficulties faced by the Railways in adding extra bogies to a given train, this Court is of the opinion that perhaps the Railways should think about demarcating some of the bogies, out of the twenty-four bogies forming the train, is exclusively dedicated to the migrant workers. Perhaps two or three bogies can be earmarked for the migrant workers, in each train leaving Secunderabad/Hyderabad area", reflected the bench.
Appreciating the re-starting of the Shramik Trains, but considering the fact that all the five Shramik Trains scheduled to leave on Thursday are only for Odisha, the court opined that perhaps more Shramik Trains should be restarted for far-off destinations, Iike States of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, and Jharkhand.
"Even in the Order, dated 02,06.2020, this Court had requested the Government to use the RTC Buses for transporting the large number of migrant workers, to the neighbouring States of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chattisgarh, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh. So far, there is no information submitted by the State whether concerted effort is being made with the neighbouring States for transporting the migrant workers from Telangana to the border check posts, and leaving the migrant workers at the border check posts", said the bench.
Accordingly, it directed the Advocate General to inform this Court on the next date of hearing as to whether any such effort is being made by the State Government, or not, And in case, such a direction is implemented, to inform this Court the number of migrant workers, who have been transported by buses, to the neighbouring States.
Finally, the bench, considerate of the plight of the migrant workers, who are stranded at the Secunderabad Railway Station, and housed in a shelter nearby, directed the State Government to consider the possibility of shifting the migrant workers, to a Government School in the vicinity. Since the School does have a sufficient number of rooms and toilets, social distancing between the migrant workers can be observed. Additionally, the Government was also directed to consider the possibility of installing e-toilets at the shelters housing migrant workers.
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