The Supreme Court will today hear a petition seeking relief for thousands of migrant workers who are leaving big cities en masse for their hometowns because they don't have the resources to sustain during the 21-day coronavirus lockdown.
"Redress the heart wrenching and inhuman plight of thousands of migrant workers families - women, small children, elders and differently-abled persons - walking on foot for hundreds of kilometers, from cities to their native villages: without food, water, transport, medicine or shelter, amid coronavirus crisis," the public interest litigation, filed by lawyer Alak Alok Shrivastava, read.
"...The biggest sufferers of this crisis situation are the poor, unregistered migrant workers, working in various big cities of India as rickshaw-pullers, ragpickers, construction workers, factory workers, house-maids, servants, unskilled and semi-skilled workers," it further said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week announced a total shutdown in the country to check the transmission of the highly contagious virus. Jobless and lacking the money required for sustenance, thousands of daily-wage migrant workers left the big cities for their hometowns on foot, as all transport services were halted because of the lockdown.
After national outcry, several state governments have arranged for transportation to ferry them to their native towns and villages. However, there are concerns that these workers might take the virus to their hometowns.
The Ministry of Home Affairs on Sunday ordered the state governments to seal their borders and strictly enforce the lockdown. The centre also asked to provide food and shelter to those stranded, including migrant workers. It also asked them to put in quarantine those who have already left for their hometowns.
Coronavirus has killed 27 people in India, with total active cases crossing the 1000-mark.