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Highway camps, monitoring by govt teams — Andhra HC guidelines to help migrants return home

The order came last week on a PIL filed by CPI state secretary K. Ramakrishna. The matter will next be heard on 27 May.

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New Delhi: The Andhra Pradesh High Court has ordered the state government to register and maintain a computerised data of migrant workers, a first-of-its kind directive, who want to go back to their respective home states.

The court came up with a series of instructions for the state government to ensure transport facilities are made available to the migrants who have been forced to undertake journeys to their home states on foot due to the lockdown.

The order came Friday on a PIL filed by CPI state secretary K. Ramakrishna last month, asking the court for adequate measures to help migrants return home.

A bench led by Chief Justice Sri Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari asked the government to set up camps at toll plazas or at other appropriate spots along the highways in all districts where registration of migrant workers can be done.

The court said within eight hours of migrants reporting to the camps, arrangements should be made to move them to wherever they intend to go.

For workers who need to travel by bus, the court added, within 48 hours the arrangements should be done and the migrants should be sent back home. And, for train bookings, the same should be done within 96 hours. 

The railways was asked by the bench to “abide by the instructions and make suitable arrangements on receiving a request from the state”.

Also read: SC can’t ‘monitor’ walking migrants, but 12 HCs have issued orders on food and shelter

Appoint data-entry operators teams

To prepare the data on migrants, the court suggested the government take assistance of a software company. It even recommended the name of a company to start work in two districts — Guntur and Krishna.

For the rest of the districts, the court directed the state to set up teams of data-entry operators and make them work in two shifts, each one being for eight hours.

“Entries should be done as early as possible and transportation services must be arranged state-wise,” the court said.

The principal secretary and commissioner, state transport department, have been asked to coordinate with district-level officers for the task. The court advised the government to avoid getting into “technicalities” with private bus operators, if their services are sought, to ensure a hassle-free journey for migrants.

Govt officials to visit camps everyday

A coordination team comprising social workers, para-legal volunteers and an employee each from the departments of revenue, police, health and local administrations will be formed for each district to ascertain the whereabouts of the migrants.

These teams will also monitor amenities, such as drinking water and food, being provided to the migrants at the camps.

This direction was issued when the court was told there was lack of coordination between government departments and volunteers working on the field due to which the intended benefits were not reaching the migrants.

The court also told all district collectors to head a team of joint collector, revenue division officer and tehsildar to visit the camps daily to see if migrants are facing any issues. The order also made it compulsory for these teams to visit the camps everyday for an hour.

Even the secretaries of the District Legal Services Authority will have to visit the camps daily for an hour, and coordinate with government officials to ensure sufficient facilities are there for the migrants.

“We hope and trust that government officials, who, though, are compelled to act upon the aforesaid guidelines shall work in practically in true sense and spirit,” the court said. 

It will again hear the matter on 27 May.

Also read: Judiciary has left citizens to fend for themselves, says Supreme Court lawyer Dushyant Dave


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