Migrant workers don't need to go home during lockdown, their needs being addressed: Centre tells SC

New Delhi, Apr 26 (PTI) The Centre has told the Supreme Court that migrant workers don’t need to travel to their native places during the lockdown, as the government is taking care of their and their family members’ daily needs wherever they are. Highlighting its response to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country, the government filed a second status report in the apex court in response to a plea by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, seeking relief for migrant workers including payment of wages.

The status report filed by Union Home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla said that to obviate the difficulties faced by low wage-earners in the organized sector, cash transfer under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana has been made. The status report said the government has allowed such workers to withdraw EPFO money advance and as on April 9, 1,49,891 members have availed of the facility.

The central government said it is taking care of psycho-social issues in shelter homes where migrant workers are staying and experts and counsellors from Central mental health institutes are visiting there.

“In view of the steps taken by the government, it is submitted that there is no necessity for migration of workers to shift from places of their occupation to the place of their residence and rush back to their villages, Their daily needs are being taken care of wherever they are working and the daily needs of their family members were being taken care of at their respective villages,” the status report filed on an affidavit said.

It said the movement of migrant workers on their own in large numbers during the lockdown defeats the very objective of the preventive measures taken by the central government.

“As per the latest statistics furnished by the state governments and Union territories, 37,978 relief camps have already been set up by state governments and Union Territories and genuine NGOs. Nearly 14.3 lakh persons have been housed in these camps. In addition to the above, 26,225 food camps have also been opened giving food to nearly 1.34 crore persons,” the affidavit said.

The Centre said that directions have been issued to district administration and superintendent of police to ensure migrant workers and other poor people who are living in rented accommodation are not compelled to pay rent by their landlords.

'If any landlord flouts this direction, they shall be liable for action under the Disaster Management Act,” it said.

It said that as per the order of apex court passed on March 31, a fact-check unit has been set up under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to check fake news.

The affidavit said, 'In view of the on-going efforts by the central government, presently the spread of COVID-19 in India is much slower than as has seen observed in several other countries.” The prompt measures particularly social distancing and lockdown have halted the spread of disease in the country so far, it added.

On March 31, the apex court had asked the Centre to prevent migration of people due to coronavirus and set up within 24 hours a portal for disseminating real time information on the pandemic to counter the panic being spread through fake news. PTI MNL ABA SJK MNL TIR TIR