The Bombay High Court  took note of problems faced by thousands of migrant labourers stranded in various parts of the state, particularly in Mumbai and suggested that government allow at least intra-state labourers to move to their native places in Maharashtra, which would ease the burden on the administration.

Justice Ravi Deshpande, however, clarified that these labourers must be sent back home only after they are medically examined. The observations came just a day after thousands of migrant labour from outside the state gathered at the normally busy Bandra railway station on hearing—rumours as it turned out—-that special trains were being run to enable them to go back to their home states.

But the court said that  as far as the inter-state migrant workers are concerned, the issue was to be tackled by the Union government. “The problem of COVID-19 is not restricted to this country, but it pertains to infection which has spread all over the entire world.

The inter-state migration of the workers and the labourers is the issue which is to be tackled by the Union government in consultation with the state government,” Justice Deshpande pointed out.

The judge noted that the Supreme Court is monitoring a similar issue and thus the High Court cannot pass appropriate orders.

For intra state movement of labour within Maharashtra, the court asked the state government to conduct a survey and prepare a list of such labourers. To this, Advocate General (AG) Ashutosh Kumbhakoni assured the bench that the government would consider the suggestion.

“I had put some suggestions in respect of the intra-state workers. It was expressed that if these migrant workers are permitted to travel to their places or destinations or homes within Maharashtra that would ease out the burden on the administration where such workers are stranded,” Justice Deshpande said in his order.

The judge further added, “But before permitting the intra-state migrants to travel to their destinations or homes, medical examinations should be conducted so that the dreaded disease does not spread in the rural areas, which presently remains unaffected.”

The bench was dealing with a clutch of petitions highlighting the issues of migrant labourers. During the course of the hearing, the bench noted that another grievance of migrant workers stranded at various shelter homes across the state was regarding the response to their complaints.

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