The Supreme Court has at last taken cognisance of the plight of millions of inter-State workers looking for transport home and relief from the unrelenting misery unleashed on them by the lockdown. A three-judge Bench has initiated suo motu proceedings based on media reports and representations from senior advocates, observing that there have been inadequacies and lapses on the part of the Centre and States in dealing with the crisis faced by workers.
The petition was sent to Prime Ministers Office via PMO Public Grievance Redress And Monitoring System and via email to Ministry of Defense and National Disaster Management Authority on 28 May 2020.
Honourable Prime Minister of India
Ask: Appeal to the GOI to take leadership and responsibility for transporting millions of interstate migrants who are stranded or are en route home in the aftermath of the nationwide COVID19 lockdown.
The ongoing situation is a humanitarian crisis that is unprecedented in our history. The predicament of our internal migrant workers has only deteriorated with each passing day. Instances of police brutality, infighting over resources at shelters, harassment on interstate borders, starvation, illnesses, and rail & road accidents are only escalating every day. Many migrants have also died as a direct result of these chaotic developments.
Shramik trains have started but these are totally inadequate to meet the needs of the large numbers of workers. Migrant workers have little information about them. People have to run from pillar to post to enquire about them and have fallen prey to misinformation and extraction. State governments do not have the resources or the capacity to undertake the task of coordinating transportation for this population, given the sheer volume of the crisis.
Noting that interstate migration and interstate quarantine are listed on the Central list of the Constitution (item 82), and how quickly this crisis has escalated across the country, we appeal with great urgency:
That the Government of India takes leadership and responsibility for transporting millions of interstate migrants who are stranded or are en route home in the aftermath of the nationwide COVID19 lockdown. In this regard, we urge the government to deploy India’s central forces to work in close coordination with state governments as accorded in Section 35(1) of the National Disaster Management Act (2005). This can only be initiated at the behest of your Honourable office and that of Shri Rajnath Singh, the Honourable Défense Minister of India.
The Vande Bharat mission is a fine example which helped Indians across the globe to be safely transported home. Complete information is provided on the MEA website of details of flights, timings, and destinations. Surely, a similar mission can be undertaken to transport migrant workers back to their rural homes.
These are bizarre and challenging times. Those who have been most severely affected are internal migrant workers. It is vital that their needs be addressed, and that they be protected. They must be allowed to go home to their families and provided with immediate cash assistance through your aegis and that of the state governments. We believe firmly and unequivocally that this is now the need of the hour.
We appeal to you to urgently intervene and respond to contain the ongoing crisis, so that this tragedy of unparalleled proportions is not allowed to continue.
Prof Abhijit Sen - Former member, Planning Commission, GoI
Ramesh Sharan - Vice Chancellor, Vinoba Bhave University, Hazaribag
S. Parshuraman - Former Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
Vibha Puri Das - IAS (Retd), Former Secretary, GoI
Prof Errol D'Souza - Director, IIMA
Prof Sukhdeo Thorat - Former Chairman, UGC
Prof Vimal Thorat - Dalit Writer and Activist
Prof Ravi Srivastava - Former Professor, JNU
NC Saxena - IAS (Retd), Former Member Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI
Amitabh Pande - IAS (Setd), Former Secretary, GoI
Prof Amita Bhide - TISS, Mumbai
Prof Sujata Patel - Distinguished Professor, Pune University
Najeeb Jung-Former Lt. Governor, Delhi
Vibhuti Narain Rai - Former DGP, UP
Swami Agnivesh - Social Activist
Ravi Kiran Jain - National President, PUCL
Justice (retd) Janardhan Sahai- Former Judge, Allahabad High Court
Justice (retd) Het Singh- Former Judge, Allahabad High Court
Aruna Roy- Social Activist
Syeda Hameed - Former member, Planning Commission, GoI
Dinesh Dwivedi - Sr Advocate, Supreme Court
Jaideep Gupta - Sr Advocate, Supreme Court
Prof KP Kannan - Chairman, Lawrie Baker Institute
Nikhil Dey - Social Activist
Rajiv Khandelwal - Co-Founder & Executive Director, Aajeevika Bureau
Sandeep Sachdeva - Co Founder & Director, Safe in India Foundation
Sudhir Rao - CEO - Mediciti Institute of Medical Sciences and Hospital
Dipti Tandon - Co-Founder, Jeevansaathi
Jagdeep Chhokar - Professor (Retd.) IIM Founding Member, ADR
Chandan Kumar - National Convenor , Working Peoples' Charter
Ajay Singh Mehta - President Vidya Bhawan Society
Narendranath Damodaran -CEO, Pradan
Dr. Pavitra Mohan - Director, Basic Health Services
Rupal Kulkarni - CEO, Shram Sarathi
Ela Bhatt - Self-Employed Women's Association of India
Reema Nanavati - Self-Employed Women's Association of India