The Hindu

PIL Filed for Migrant Labourers in Madhya Pradesh during COVID 19

Banddhua Mukti Morcha Vs. State of Madhya Pradehs, W.P. No (PIL) 7915/2020 | High Court of Jabalpur | Status: Pending | |

A. That, the current outbreak of COVID 19 has affected lakhs of people in various ways and claimed around 4500 lives in India so far. In Madhya Pradesh particularly, the population of people migrating to other states for employment opportunity is high. As per 2011 census, Madhya Pradesh falls among states with the highest rate of out-migration in India. Due to the current COVID-19 Pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, migrant labourers have lost their jobs and wages having no place to stay.

B. The migrant labourers who have somehow managed to return from other states to Madhya Pradesh are unemployed owing to                the  current pandemic. Majority of the migrant workforce is employed in the unorganised sector where social security benefits and              paid leave are an exception, not the norm. Hence, they have no savings and are in a destitute situation.

C. Migrants have been living hand to mouth and the balance cash in their hands have been spent in sustaining themselves and managing their return from other states to the state of Madhya Pradesh. Thebenefits of schemes which have been announced for the migrant labours have still not reached them and access to banking remains well short of universal. Majority of them returning to the state are unaware of the schemes announced for their benefits or have no clue on how to avail them. With no money, migrant labours are finding it difficult to fetch themselves two-meals.

D.   Migrant Labourers returning from various states to Madhya Pradesh are being given a facility to stay at Bijasan Temple. However, poor planning in terms of sheltering thousands of migrants in such a small area is resulting in migrants sleeping in open without even a proper blanket to cover and a meal to fetch themselves. The same migrants in Maharashtra were given proper food and water alongwith medical facilities before boarding them in the bus to Madhya Pradesh. DainikBhaskar’s report dated 27th May 2020 showing thousands of Migrant Labours lying down in open is annexed herewith and marked. This treatment to the migrant labours coupled with rude replies from authorities ordering them to sleep wherever they get space is in violation of Article 21.   

The Unorganized Sector Workers’ Social Security Act passed in 2008 envisaged a system to prepare a database of unorganized workers employed in certain industries to give them some visibility. Under the act, states have to establish worker facilitation centres (WFC) where migrant workers can register themselves for a ‘smart portable identification card. The State Government took no stepto implement the act and register the labourers from past 12 years.Smart cardswould have made it easy to trace transient migrants. If the administrative measures under the law had been operative, a database would have enabled states and Centre to provide immediate relief to migrants in the present crisis. There are 32 workers who are currently in Bhopal District without any ration or cash assistance and have not received the benefits provided under the SambhalYojana Scheme or any other schemes provided by the Union Government. The list includes only some labourers present in one district of Madhya Pradesh i e., Bhopal. However, there are labourers stranded in other district of Madhya Pradesh who also require cash assistance and ration.