As the mass exodus of migrant workers continues in the National capital, the Delhi HC has issued a stern warning to the Kejriwal government. The High Court has asked his government to ensure that the migrant workers and daily wagers in the region do not undergo the sufferings they had to undergo in the state when the centre imposed a lockdown in 2020, reports Live Law.
The Delhi HC made these observations while hearing the case of Rakesh Malhotra vs GNCTD and others. It was a petition which was filed seeking steps to control the COVID-19 situation in the national capital, which was disposed of in January. However, owing to the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, the court decided to revive the case.
The bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli observed: “One of the lessons that none should forget from the lockdown imposed in the year 2020, is the plight that the daily wagers and migrant labour force which reside and work in GNCTD had to suffer. We have been seeing news reports about migrant labours already going back to their origin states, with the surge in the COVID cases in the GNCTD. With the imposition of curfew till 26.04.2021, the daily wagers –who are hand to mouth, and earn their bread every day to feed themselves and their families, are once again faced with the grim reality of facing a shortage of even basic necessities such as food, clothing and medication.”
Acknowledging the Kejriwal government’s apathy towards the migrant labourers back in 2020, the HC observed that when India was grappling with the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak then too, the civil society had come forward and provided food and other necessities to the large sections of such needy people.
To control the havoc the second wave of coronavirus has wreaked in the National Capital, the Arvind Kejriwal government announced a sudden 6-day rigorous lockdown. After having had a bitter experience during the first wave of pandemic last year when the nation-wide lockdown was announced by Centre to curb infection and build up health infrastructure, the migrant workers in Delhi have decided to go back to their hometowns, lest they be left in the lurch.
The High Court reminded the Kejriwal government of the plight of migrants and daily wagers during the 2020 lockdown and urged it to take adequate steps to ensure that the same is not repeated this time.
Arvind Kejriwal govt fails to utilize thousands of crores they are sitting on, observes Delhi HC
Though the counsel appearing on behalf of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) argued that the State has taken adequate steps in this regard, the bench said: “we may say with our own experience, and that the State failed to do enough”.
The Court slammed the Arvind Kejriwal government for failing to utilize thousands of crores of rupees they are sitting on, which is available with the Board constituted under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996, and which has been collected as Building cess for construction workers.
While reprimanding the Kejriwal government for its nonchalant attitude towards the migrant labourers in the National Capital, the HC sought affidavits from the Centre and GNCTD regarding the availability of COVID beds in hospitals, oxygen supply etc.
Arvind Kejriwal’s 2020 mismanagement compells migrants to once again run away from Delhi
It is imperative to note that last year when the pandemic hit India, it is alleged that the AAP govt in Delhi ran state-govt buses and made announcements to get the migrants to bus stations. From there, Delhi Transport Corp buses brought these migrants to the Delhi-UP border and left them, promising them that the UP buses will take them to their respective villages. This when all the states had stopped inter-state movement and there were no state-run buses plying on road. So, in the first wave of the pandemic, Kejriwal had left the migrants on their own before the Yogi govt stepped in to help them.
Left with this bitter taste, it is understandable why the migrant labourers are once again thronging bus terminals after the government announced a 6-day lockdown in the National Capital.