NEW DELHI: No fare for travel either by train or bus should be charged from migrant workers stranded across the country and they must be provided food and water, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed.
The apex court, which passed interim directions, said all migrant workers who are stranded at various places shall be provided food by concerned states and Union Territories (UTs) at places which shall be publicised and notified to them for the period they are waiting for their turn to board a train or a bus.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said that the originating state shall provide meals and water at the station and during the journey while the Railways would provide the same to the migrant workers. It said that food and water be also provided to them for travel in buses. The bench, also comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M R Shah observed, directed that states oversee the registration of migrant workers and ensure that they are made to board the train or bus at the earliest.
The top court said that complete information in this regard should be publicised to all concerned.
The court observed that it is presently concerned with the miseries and difficulty faced by the migrants workers who are trying to get to their native places. It said though there is no doubt that concerned state governments and UTs are taking steps, several lapses have been issued in the process of registration, transportation and providing food water to the migrants.
Reacting to the judgement, Railway Food Vendors Association on Thursday wrote to Indian Railways Board chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav that vendors are not ready to start food stalls on platforms and that most vendors have gone back to villages, according to a news agency.
They said there are no arrangement to protect vendors while Shramik train passengers loot, vandalise platform stalls that have opened, it said.
SC took suo motu cognizance of the “unfortunate and miserable conditions of migrant workers walking on foot and cycles from long distances,” and issued notices to the Centre and state governments on Tuesday. The apex court's cognisance comes after high courts of Madras, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Bombay and Gujarat took note of the plight of migrant workers.
The Andhra Pradesh High Court observed, “If at this stage, this court does not react and pass these orders, this court would be falling in its role as a protector and alleviator of suffering. Their pain has to be alleviated at this stage.”