The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Wednesday that special labor trains were arranged last month to take migrant workers to their home state amid the Covid-19 epidemic. Among most of the trains, less passengers traveled which caused a loss of 42 lakh rupees to the government.
Advocate Ashutosh Kumbakoni, appearing for the state government, told the bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice AS Gadkari that now lakhs of migrant workers are returning from their home states to Maharashtra. The bench was hearing a petition by the Indian Trade Union Center in Mumbai, which has expressed concern over the plight of migrant workers trapped in Maharashtra amid the epidemic.
Advocate General Kumbhakoni said that last month the state government had arranged trains for thousands of migrant workers, but only 3,551 people traveled in them, causing a loss of about 42 lakh rupees to the state government. He told the court that a labor train was arranged to take 383 migrant workers from Pune to their home state. But the day this 24-coach train departed, only 49 people boarded it.
“Millions of migrants left the state at the onset of the epidemic but are returning now,” Kumbakoni said. Petitioner advocate Ronita Bhattacharya said in court on Wednesday that many migrant workers are still in their home states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal waiting to go back.
The bench told the petitioner that a certain number of migrant workers desirous of going back to their home state need to be ascertained. The bench said that at the same time it should also be considered whether the original states of these migrant workers are willing to allow these people to return to the present situation. The court listed the petition for hearing after two weeks.
It is important to note that during the lockdown period many migrant workers were stranded in different parts of country especially in Delhi and Mumbai. During that period, to bring back those workers, state governments have requested the Centre to start special trains. The expense of those trains have been partially bear by the state government. Now, when the country is proceeding towards unlock, workers are trying to ho back to those places which significantly causing loss to the government.