Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has informed the Supreme Court that for train travel no fare is being charged from the migrant labourers and the same is borne as per arrangement between originating states and receiving states.
The Centre told the apex court that railway ministry has made it clear that any demand for Shramik Special trains shall be met within 24 hours by it, and total demand, which is now pending is only 171 trains whereas ministry has earlier run 250 trains in one day. “Central government with the support of National Highway Authority of India is facilitating the shifting of migrant workers, who were found walking on the roads, by providing them with the requisite transport to the nearest railway stations”, said Mehta.
The Centre informed the top court that Ministry of Railways has issued letters on May 29 and June 3, to chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories on the subject of “projected demand for movement of stranded persons by Shramik rail”. In response to the aforesaid letters, a request has been received from different states for trains from June 3 to June 16, which is the last date on which trains have been prayed for.
Mehta informed the top court that there are no demands from various states for any train citing a chart, brought on the record as Annexure R-6, to the affidavit where details of trains demanded from different states have been compiled.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M R Shah, in the verdict, said: “All the States/Union Territories shall take all necessary steps regarding the identification of stranded migrant workers in their state which are willing to return to their native places and take steps for their return journey by train/bus which process may be completed within a period of 15 days from today.”
The top court also said that in event of any additional demand, in addition to the demand of 171 Shramik trains, railways shall provide trains within a period of 24 hours to facilitate the return journey of migrant workers. The ruling has come from the top court after it took suo moto cognizance of the plight of migrant workers due to the nationwide lockdown to contain the outbreak of coronavirus.