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New Delhi, May 27, 2020
There is no nationwide action plan to address the stranded migrant labourers' crisis, senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala on Wednesday told the Supreme Court, seeking to intervene in the matter where the top court took suo motu cognizance on the "unfortunate and miserable" plight of migrant labourers stranded across the country due to COVID-19 lockdown.
Surjewala, who is an official spokesperson for the Congress, through the plea suggested a host of measures, from providing food to employment, for migrant labourers facing hardships due to the lockdown.
He suggested the Centre immediately set up reception centres and facilitation centres at district and village levels for receiving labourers and facilitating further travel of the labourers to their native districts/villages.
"On the basis of information being provided by the labourers, the hardships faced and the facilities/actions that helped them during their journey, the government of India may formulate a nationwide action plan to address the issues of stranded migrants", said Surjewala in the plea.
The plea, filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes, suggested the Centre immediately formulate a scheme to provide adequate food, medicine and shelter to the stranded migrant labourers.
The financial relief announced by the Centre "should be implemented on an urgent and immediate basis and a public announcement detailing the reliefs with timelines and step-wise procedure of release should be shared with the public and migrants", he added.
In the backdrop of unemployment crisis faced by many migrants, the plea said the stranded migrants have been uprooted from places of gainful employment. "The government of India should formulate urgent and immediate schemes for providing gainful employment to the migrant labourers, with additional and specific schemes, which take into consideration the education of the migrant labourers' children and the general well-being of their family members."
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan had on Tuesday taken suo motu cognizance of the plight of migrant labourers stranded across the country and noted they needed free food and shelter.
The top court had issued notices to the Centre and all States and Union Territories and sought their replies by May 28.
Earlier, the apex court had declined to entertain a PIL seeking migrant workers' welfare during the lockdown imposed to contain the outbreak of COVID-19. The apex court had said the Centre and states are taking appropriate steps to provide them relief.