The Supreme Court Friday sought responses from the Centre and governments of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra on a plea seeking directions to provide safe and secure means of transportation to migrants travelling from Mumbai to their native places amid COVID-19 pandemic.
The apex court asked these states to apprise it about the steps being taken by the concerned authorities to assist these migrants.
A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao was told by the petitioner’s counsel that there were no means for these people to go back to their native places in Uttar Pradesh from Mumbai and they were unable to access the mechanism laid down to apply for availing transport facility.
The petitioner’s counsel told the bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and B R Gavai, that government must engage people at lower level and they cannot have just one nodal officer for a district.
“Issue notice returnable in two weeks,” the bench said in its order.
The bench, which was hearing the matter through video-conferencing, told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that there should be officers at the lower level to look into the grievances of migrants.
Mehta told the bench that nodal officers have been appointed at the state level and he would coordinate with the states on the issue.
The plea, filed by advocate Sagheer Ahmed Khan, has sought directions to ensure that migrant workers in Mumbai, particularly those hailing from Sant Kabir Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, are safely transported home so that their continuous suffering in their attempts to reach their destination comes to an end.
“The petitioner is moving this court as the migrant workers in Mumbai who have no source of livelihood due to the lockdown are constrained to leave Mumbai and are forced to travel to their hometowns in inhuman conditions,” the plea has said, adding that the petitioner has offered to pay up to Rs 25 lakh towards cost of travel of migrants belonging to districts Sant Kabir Nagar in Uttar Pradesh.
It has claimed that repeated attempts made by the petitioner to contact the nodal officer appointed by Uttar Pradesh to ensure safe return of migrants from Maharashtra have failed as telephone lines are continuously busy and e-mails have not been answered.
It has also sought a direction to ensure that enough number of trains and buses be dedicated for evacuation of migrant workers.