Centre, state failed in migrant workers crisis in COVID-19 lockdown: Delhi HC

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New Delhi, Apr 19 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Monday said that the Centre and AAP government miserably failed to think about migrant workers during the 2020 lockdown and lessons are required to be learnt from it as daily wagers are again going to face the grim reality with the imposition of fresh six-day lockdown in the national capital in the wake of second wave of COVID-19. The high court said as the Delhi government has announced a six-day lockdown, the reports show that migrant workers are again going back to their native places from here.

“We would like that lessons are taken from the past lockdown. The thing in which the government failed miserably was daily wagers,” it said.

“With the imposition of curfew, the daily wagers are again faced with a grim reality. On the last occasion, the civil society had come forward,” a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said.

“Both the state and central governments have miserably failed” said the bench and added “You left it to the good samaritans to come out of their houses and distribute food to the migrant labourers.” The bench said it was saying this from its own experience that the State has failed to utilise thousands of rupees lying in the corpus under the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act.

“We direct the Delhi government to withdraw from the said account, if necessary, and provide food to needy daily wagers at their respective work sites,” the bench said.

It added that the Delhi government shall utilise the services of contractors who used to prepare mid-day meals in schools which are closed now.

Delhi Chief Secretary was directed by the court to ensure implementation of its direction without any delay and the Delhi government has to mention in its affidavit as to how it proposed to implement it.

Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing Delhi government, said last time also lot of things were done by the government and this was a humanitarian crisis and they will do whatever they can.

“This government’s heart beat for the poor… we will do whatever is required. I don’t see there being any obstruction,” he said.

The high court, on its own, revived a disposed of petition filed by advocate Rakesh Malhotra related to COVID-19 testings and infrastructure, noting that the virus has raised its “ugly head” once again and the pandemic is raging with much greater intensity and 'it is evident that the healthcare infrastructure is at the stage of imminent collapse'. PTI SKV SKV RKS RKS