PIL in Supreme Court for transporting Migrant Workers walking on the roads
BackgroundOn 21.5.2020, a Writ Petition was filed before the Supreme Court seeking urgent reliefs for migrant workers walking along the roads all across the country. The Petitioner, Janghyaseni Mohapatra, is a social activist who works on labour issues in Odisha, and has carried out extensive relief work during the national Covid-19 Lockdown. The Petition gives several instances of migrant workers and their family members, including young children, who have died while walking hundreds of kilometers in an attempt to return to their homes. Till 21.5.2020, more than 139 migrant workers and their kin had died due to exhaustion, starvation, dehydration, and heat, and hundreds of others have suffered serious physical injuries while attempting to walk hundreds of kilometers to return to their home States and villages.
Following are some of the instances of deaths of migrant workers and their kin:
i. 28.3.2020- One migrant worker, 39 year old Ranveer Singh, collapsed and died after walking 200 kms. He was walking from Delhi to his home in Morena, Madhya Pradesh. His autopsy showed that he died of a heart attack triggered by exhaustion.
ii. 1.4.2020- One migrant road construction worker, 40 year old Vilas Mahto, died in Rohtas district in Bihar. He was walking from Allahabad, where he worked, to his village in Bihar nearly 400 kms away. After walking about 250 kms he collapsed and died due to a heart attack caused by exhaustion.
iii. 21.4.2020- A 12 year old girl died in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh, after walking for 150 kms from the chilly fields in Telangana where she had been working for two months. She had walked for three days and suffered vomiting and stomach ache. According to the doctors, the girl was severely dehydrated and malnourished.
iv. 8.5.2020- 16 migrant workers were killed and five injured in Aurangabad district in Maharashtra when a goods train ran them over. They were returning to their homes in Madhya Pradesh walking along the railway line. They were exhausted and so took rest on the railway track, and had fallen asleep.
v. 13.5.2020- Six migrant workers were killed and five seriously injured in Muzzafarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh when a speeding bus ran over them on the Delhi-Saharanpur Highway. They were walking from Punjab to their homes in Bihar.
vi. 13.5.2020- In another instance on the same day, one migrant worker was killed and three injured in Chitrakoot district of Uttar Pradesh by a speeding truck. The four persons were returning from Raipur in Chhattisgarh to their hometown Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh.
vii. 14.5.2020- Three migrant workers were killed and four injured in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh. They were travelling from Surat in Gujarat to Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh. They were waiting for conveyance on the Lucknow-Ayodhya National Highway when a speeding truck hit them.
viii. 15.5.2020- A 56 year old migrant worker, Dhubei Charan Mohanty, slumped to death at Laxmannath tollgate on the Odisha-Bengal border while trying to return from Kolkata to his village in Puri, Odisha. According to a doctor at the GK Bhattar Hospital, he suffered acute dehydration leading to cardiac arrest. Reliefs Sought
This Petition seeks directions to the Union of India and State Governments to follow the model adopted by the Odisha Government, and provide government vehicles including patrol vehicles of the Police Department and the NHAI, to transport migrant workers who are walking on the roads and help them reach their home villages, or to the appropriate points on the inter-state boundaries to those transiting through the State. The Petition further seeks payment of compensation to the family members of those who have died while trying to walk back to their home States.