Reminding the government that it is the State’s duty to ensure every migrant worker is provided with adequate food, drinking water, shelter and medical facilities, the Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the government to identify migrant labourers without these facilities on “war-footing” and file a report by June 8.
The court said, “Having extracted work from migrant labourers, our State cannot be ungrateful.” The court was hearing a habeas corpus plea moved by advocate A P Suryaprakasam, who sought a direction to Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra police to locate and produce more than 400 workers from Tamil Nadu allegedly under illegal detention in Maharashtra.
Hearing the case on May 16, when both the state and Centre were told to file a report on the number and status of migrant workers, the division bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and R Hemalatha had said, “One cannot control his/her tears after seeing the pathetic condition of migrant labourers shown in the media for the past one month.”
The court had also observed, “…Though belated, this court would like to know whether coordinated efforts have been taken by all state governments in consultation with the central government to address sufferings of migrant labourers…”
The petitioner said thousands of workers are without food and shelter and are wandering at railway stations. State counsels submitted that the government is taking all steps to provide necessary facilities, and that comprehensive directions given by Supreme Court are being followed. They said migrant labourers are not charged “even for train travel”, as per the Supreme Court’s order, and sought time to file a detailed report.
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