The Supreme Court was informed today that over 11 lakh migrant workers have gone back to their native places from Maharashtra, the state worst affected by COVID-19 -- both in number of cases and casualties.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan was hearing the matter in which it had taken suo motu (on its own) cognisance on the plight of migrant workers who were stranded across the country due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Centre informed the top court that around one crore migrant workers across the country have already reached their destination -- around 41 lakh by road transport and 57 lakhs by trains.
During the hearing, the advocates representing various states gave the figures of migrant workers as per which, over 11 lakh and 20.5 lakh people have gone back from Maharashtra and Gujarat respectively.
Maharashtra has so far reported 77,793 COVIID-19 positive cases and 2,710 deaths. India, overall, has recorded over 2.26 lakh cases and 6,348 death due the pandemic.
Counsel appearing for Bihar and Uttar Pradesh informed the court that they have so far received 28 lakh and 21.69 lakh migrants received.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and M R Shah, that so far 802 trains have been operated from Maharashtra for transporting migrant workers.
The bench, which heard the matter through video-conferencing, observed that it intends to give 15 days to the Centre and states to complete the transportation of all stranded migrant workers to their native places and said it would pronounce its order on June 9 on the issue.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, representing Delhi government, told the top court that around two lakh workers are still in the national capital and only around 10,000 of them have expressed their desire return to native places.
The counsel appearing Gujarat told the bench that out of around 22 lakhs migrant workers in the state, 2.5 lakhs are remaining while around 20.5 lakhs have already been transported back.
Senior advocate P S Narasimha, appearing for Uttar Pradesh, said that around 5.50 lakh migrants workers were brought back into the state from Delhi borders for which buses made over 10,000 trips.
The state government told the bench that 1,664 shramik trains were organised and around 21.69 lakhs migrant workers were brought back in Uttar Pradesh.
It said they have send back around 1.35 lakh migrants, who were in Uttar Pradesh, and 104 special trains were operated for this.
The counsel appearing for Bihar government told the court that around 28 lakh migrants workers have returned to the state.
The lawyer said that Bihar government is taking steps to provide them employment and so far, skill mapping of around 10 lakh migrants has been done.
The counsel representing West Bengal said that around 3.97 lakh stranded migrants are in the state and relief camps were serving around one lakh meals.
The counsel said that West Bengal is more of a receiving state and they will provide every assistance which is needed to bring people back.
The counsel representing Kerala said that around 4.34 lakh migrants were there and over one lakh have already been transported.
Kerala government said that out of the rest around 2.81 lakh migrant workers, 1.61 lakh wanted to stay in the state.
When Kerala's counsel said that Railways is under the Central government and they should take care of the cost of return by migrants, the bench said that all states must make their own arrangements.
The counsel appearing for Karnataka said that from May 3, the state has facilitated return of over three lakh migrant workers and if 15 days time is given they will facilitate transportation of the rest.
The lawyer said in past two weeks, number of migrant workers who want to go out of Karnataka has come down.
The solicitor general assured the top court that the entire country is working in tandem and all demands and assistance required by the states would be provided to them.
On May 28, the top court had directed that the migrant workers wanting to return to their home states will not be charged train or bus fares and those stranded across the country will be provided food free of cost by the authorities concerned.
It had passed a slew of interim directions "looking into the difficulties and miseries of migrant workers" and directed that states shall simplify and speed up the process of registration of migrant workers and provide help desk for registration at the places where they are stranded.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)