The Bombay High Court directed the state government to clarify who will be paying for the cost of travel and medical screening of migrant workers stranded in the state due to the ongoing lockdown as a consequence of the pandemic of Covid-19.
Justice SC Gupte was hearing via video conferencing PILs filed by two NGOs namely Sarva Hara Jan Andolan and Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan regarding the implementation of the various schemes of the Central and State Government for the benefit of all marginalised sections of the society like migrant workers, slum dwellers and the homeless.
Appearing on behalf of the petitioner NGOs, Advocates Kranti LC and Ronita Bhattacharya submitted that the Congress party had announced that its state units would bear the transportation cost for migrants, following which the Centre clarified that 85 percent of the cost will be paid by the Centre and the remaining 15 per cent would be paid by the respective states.
Thus, there is a need for clarity regarding payment of such costs as Congress is a part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in the state led by Uddhav Thackeray. Moreover, since migrant workers are also required to pay to obtain medical clearance certificates in order to travel, such costs can also be borne by the State, counsel for the petitioners contended.
Court directed both the Centre and the state government to coordinate and accordingly inform the bench in the next hearing regarding payment of above mentioned costs.
Controversy around payment of transportation cost arose after the railways allowed special trains to ferry the migrant workers stranded across the country to their home state but asked states to pay for it. This is when Congress President Sonia Gandhi offered to pay for the cost of transportation of these migrants.
The next date of hearing in the matter is May 8.