Don’t dump migrants at State borders: HC

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The Telangana High Court on Friday instructed the State government to ensure that migrant workers intending to go back to their home-states were not dumped in any district border areas.

In a PIL petition over the plight of hundreds of migrant workers, who were seen walking on the Medchal stretch of the Hyderabad-Nizamabad national highway, the HC said looking after those workers was the government’s foremost duty. Different wings of the government should make concerted efforts to shift the migrant workers walking to their home-states to bus stands or railway stations nearby.

Form there, they could take the buses or trains to reach their destinations. Issuing the interim directions, the bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy said the orders should be complied with strictly. The court would take serious note of any omission or inefficiency on the part of the State in the matter, the bench said.

The bench directed the government to inform it of the concrete steps taken to redress the grievances of the migrant workers and the status of enforcement of the court direction on the matter in a week. Professor Rama Shankar Narayan Melkote, who filed the PIL plea, stated that the Centre was operating a number of trains to transport migrant labourers to different states from Lingampally, Bollarum and Ghatkesasr in Hyderabad.

But the State official machinery was forcibly shifting workers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha by buses to the Telangana-Maharashtra borders, especially to Adilabad district. This was irresponsibility, arbitrary and discriminatory on the part of the government, the petitioner said.

While these workers were being dumped at Adilabad, several workers were seen daily walking under the scorching sun, some carrying children, on the Nizamabad-Hyderabad national highway. Some women were carrying infants while travelling on foot, the petitioner’s lawyer Vasudha Nagaraj said.

Advocate General B. S. Prasad told the bench that the government had provided all facilities for the safe travel of migrant workers. Every 10 km on the highway, food and water were made available to the workers. He said that only in one instance, 20 workers had travelled by a private van to reach Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh and they had safely reached their destination.

Even then, coming to the rescue of workers wishing to return to their states should be the prime responsibility of the government, the bench remarked. It instructed the officials to ascertain the exact number of labourers walking to their destinations on the Medchal stretch on the Hyderabad-Nizamabad highway.

All of them should be taken back to Medchal, accommodated in local marriage halls and provided with food and water. Not a single worker should be dumped at State borders, the HC said.

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