Coronavirus | Centre files report on migrant workers

Kerala has most shelters for them, Ministry of Home Affairs tells Supreme Court

Published - April 07, 2020 11:26 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Long wait:  Migrant workers standing in a queue to collect food at a shelter in New Delhi.

Long wait: Migrant workers standing in a queue to collect food at a shelter in New Delhi.

A status report filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the Supreme Court on Tuesday shows that Kerala government operates over 65% of the total number of active shelters and relief camps for stranded migrant workers run by various States governments in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

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Maharashtra government comes a distant second with 1135 camps, though NGOs in this State run 3397 camps. Tamil Nadu government operates 178 active relief camps and shelters for migrant workers. Two in the State are run by NGOs.

Also read | Lockdown displaces lakhs of migrants

While the number of relief camps run by other State governments for migrant workers is in two and three digits, there are 15541 such camps and shelters in Kerala, all of them run by the State government.

The total number of active relief camps and shelters for migrant workers run by various State governments and NGOs are 22567 and 3909, respectively.

The MHA report also shows that 15 lakh stranded migrant workers were given shelter and food by their own employers/industry following the COVID-19 lockdown.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde was informed that the government, Centre and States gave food to 54,15,458 migrant workers while NGOs fed over 30 lakh.

The status report contains statistics on steps in place to ensure the welfare of migrant labourers in 578 districts across the country.

There are 7848 food camps operated by the government and another 9473 by NGOs for migrant labourers.

The MHA said the number of persons in government-run relief camps and shelters comes to over 6.3 lakh and in those run by NGOs to over four lakh. The number of active relief camps and shelters of the government is 22,567 and of the NGOs is 3909.

“The Centre and State governments are doing their best strategising human resources and other resources to come out of this unprecedented global crisis,” the MHA affidavit said.

PILs criticised

The Ministry criticised the PILs asking questions about the plight of migrant workers following the lockdown.

“It deserves to be pointed that when the country is facing such unprecedented crisis, filing of such petitions and attempting to sit in appeal over all actions taken by the respective governments by a few individual needs to be discouraged as it diverts energy and attention of the statutory functionaries which ought to have been utilised to its optimum in discharging their duties on ground,” the affidavit said.

The hearing was based chiefly on a petition filed by activists Harsh Mander and Anjali Bhardwaj. , who said that the declaration of the 21-day national lockdown without prior information “precipitated an unprecedented humanitarian crisis” for migrant workers, resulting in their mass exodus to their hometowns.

The petition had argued that the Centre and the States should, either jointly or severally, take responsibility to pay migrant workers at least a week’s wages for their sustenance.

The case was listed for further hearing on April 13.

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