The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce Tuesday its verdict on a plea seeking directions to the Centre and states to ensure food security, cash transfers and other welfare measures for migrant workers hit hard again by the curbs imposed during the second wave of COVID-19. A bench of justices Ashok Bhushan and M R Shah had on June 11 reserved its judgement on pleas of activists Anjali Bharadwaj, Harsh Mander and Jagdeep Chhokar seeking the implementation of welfare measures for such workers.
The fresh plea was filed in a pending suo motu case of 2020 in which the top court had in May last year taken cognisance of problems and miseries of migrant labourers and had passed a slew of directions, including asking states not to charge fare from migrant workers and provide them free food till they board trains or buses.
While reserving the order, the bench had asked the states and union territories (UTs) to implement one nation, one ration card' (ONORC) scheme as it allows migrant workers to get ration at the place of their work in other states as well where their ration cards are not registered.
The Centre had said that while most states were implementing the ONORC, four of them — Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and West Bengal — had not done so and implementing it would depend on their technical readiness. The Centre later also said the AAP government's claim regarding the launch of ONORC plan is misleading as a large number of migrant workers are unable to take the benefit of subsidised National Food Security Act (NFSA) food grains in Delhi as there is no full implementation.
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The bench had taken strong note of the delay in development of a software meant to register workers of unorganised sector to create a national database and had posed queries to the Centre as to how the benefit of free food grain till November this year under the 'Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna' would reach migrant labourers having no ration cards.
The activists have sought directions to the Centre and states to ensure food security, cash transfers, transport facilities and other welfare measures for the migrant workers on grounds that they are in dire need for help as the crisis is bigger during the second wave.
Earlier on May 24, the top court had termed "very slow" the process of registration of unorganised workers and had directed authorities to provide dry ration and make operational community kitchens for migrant workers stranded throughout the country amid COVID-19 pandemic.