Reverse migration of workers has started, no need for Shramik specials: State to Bombay HCUpdated: Aug 06, 2020 01:03 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) has directed the state to file a detailed affidavit on the number of trains arranged to transport migrant workers to their native places, number of migrant workers who boarded the trains, and the cost and loss incurred by the state for the same since July 11. The directions were issued after the state informed the court that there was a reverse migration of workers returning to Mumbai, and hence the petitioner’s demand to arrange trains was an exercise in futility.
The court also said that in light of the fact that receiving states were not willing to allow the workers to return, the state should first take the opinion of the receiving states and only if they agree then the state should arrange for trains or buses to take back workers.
A division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice AS Gadkari, while hearing the public interest litigation filed by Centre for Indian Trade Unions, was informed by advocate Ronita Bhattacharya Bector that there were more than 13,000 migrant workers who wanted to return back to their native places in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and other states and hence the Maharashtra government should arrange transportation facilities for them.
However, advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni strongly opposed the contention and submitted that there was a reverse migration of workers who were returning to Mumbai and hence the petitioners claim was unfounded. He further said that after the last hearing, they had received a list of around 8,000 migrant workers, who wanted to return to their hometowns, from the petitioner and other NGOs, hence eight trains were arranged and the railways was paid ₹69 lakh for the same.
Kumbhakoni then submitted that less than half the workers actually boarded the trains, leading to the state suffering a loss of ₹42 lakh. He further cited an instance of Pune wherein the petitioner had sought transport arrangement for 383 migrant workers, but only 49 workers turned up. In light of these submissions, he said that the petitioner should be asked to deposit the amount accruing for the transport of workers whose list they submit. He added the state would then refund the amount for workers who availed the facility as the state could not be made to incur losses.
After hearing the submissions, the bench observed that as some states refused to allow workers to return, the state should ascertain the number of migrant workers wanting to return back and the state they belong to, and then contact the concerned state and find out whether the state was willing to allow trains to bring back workers. The court directed additional solicitor general Anil Singh to publicise the list after collating the information.
The court also directed the state to file a detailed affidavit enumerating the grounds it had raised within seven days and directed the petitioner to file a rejoinder within a week after that and posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.