An application has been filed in the Supreme Court by applicants Harsh Mander and others through Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan so that the Petition is urgently listed before the Court in view of disturbing facts that have emerged due to the second wave of the COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns and restrictions and its impact on the poor especially the migrant workers.
The applicants has filed an intervention application in the suo motu matter relating to migrant workers.
The applicants have filed this urgent application for directions seeking measures to ensure food security by way of provision of dry rations and free cooked food, cash transfers to all migrant workers for the period that economic activity is adversely affected, transport facilities at nominal fares for those migrants desirous of returning to their hometowns and villages etc, the petition said.
The applicants submitted that the problems and miseries faced by migrant workers during the lockdown in 2020 have persisted over the past year due to the continued economic distress and now have got aggravated on account of fresh restrictions, curfews and lockdowns being imposed in many States to control the spread of COVID. Migrant workers are again bearing the brunt of these policies and urgent intervention is required to address the following issues:‐
(i) Loss of livelihood and means of income on account of the restrictions and lockdowns resulting in people being unable to pay for basic needs like food, rent, etc.
(ii) Lack of proper arrangement for safe and free travel back to their hometowns and villages when lockdowns are announced
The applicants seek to bring to the notice of the Court the continuing hardship being faced by migrant workers in light of the new restrictions and curfews/lockdowns imposed by state governments to curb the spread of the second wave of COVID-19 in India.
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The applicants said that the the new restrictions and curfews/lockdowns has caused immense distress in the lives of the economically vulnerable sections of society, especially migrant workers. Across several states, migrant workers, having lost their means of livelihood on account of the restrictions imposed, are unable to sustain themselves and there is large scale distress migration back to their hometowns. No proper relief measures to mitigate the economic hardships being faced by migrant workers have been announced when the lockdowns were put in place leading to a precarious situation. The loss of livelihood and means of income is causing food insecurity among migrant workers and their families.