The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday, March 31, directed the Centre to ensure that there is no panic amongst the migrant workers as they have run out of work during the 21-day nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Further, the apex court asked the government to provide food, medical aid, and counselling to the labourers who have been put in quarantine post their return to their respective villages.
Migrant workers
Migrant workers

"Make sure that all the workers who have been put in isolation are taken care of in terms of food, shelter, nourishment and medical aid," observed the SC.

Important to give strength to migrants: SC

Hearing a petition seeking directions to provide food and shelter to migrant workers, Chief Justice SA Bobde told the Centre's representative Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to work towards the mental well-being of the helpless.

"We want to impress upon you that the panic will destroy more lives than the virus. You can have bhajan, kirtan, namaz or whatever but you have to give strength to the migrants," said the Chief Justice.

The court stated that trained counsellors and community leaders of all faiths should visit the relief camps and counsel the labourers.

Centre working round-the-clock to help migrants

Agreeing to comply with the orders, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the SC that the authorities are considering providing counselling to address the panic among the migrants.

"We will mobilise religious leaders, maulvis, sadhus to counsel the laborers within 24-hours. Around 23 lakh people including needy persons, migrants and daily wagers are being provided with food and have been kept in shelters," said Mehta.

Hit hard by the lockdown, the migrant workers from different parts of the country started to head back to their hometowns. As all modes of transport were shut, they didn't have any option but to walk 100s of kilometres.

Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus

To prevent the risk of the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the state authorities decided to put the incoming labourers in quarantine for at least 14 days.

As of now, India has over 1200 cases of COVID-19 with Maharashtra and Kerala having more than 200 patients each.