MUMBAI: With the lifting of the Covid-19 lockdown, remaining migrants in Maharashtra do not want to return home, a trade union apex body told Bombay high court on Friday.
A bench of justices Amjad Sayed and Nitin Borkar were informed by senior advocate Gayatri Singh, that Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) wants to withdraw its public interest litigation filed on the plight of stranded migrants
“Much has happened since Covid pandemic began. Most of the migrants were transported home on trains and the remaining do not want to return due the opening of the lockdown,” Singh said. Allowing the PIL to be withdrawn, the bench granted CITU liberty to approach the labour commissioner if any difficulty arises on the issue of online registration of migrant workers.
On August 5 the State told HC it had incurred a loss of Rs 42 lakh in respect of migrants who had not boarded six Shramik trains it had arranged from June 16-July 31 for 8520 migrants and had paid Rs 69 lakh to the Railways. Its reply said only 3,551 boarded the trains and their fares were reimbursed by various State governments. It added that 4969 migrants did not board the trains and “this irresponsible behavior on the part of all concerned “ caused a loss of Rs 42 lakh to the State treasury.
The State’s reply also said till date over 12 lakh migrants had returned through 842 trains. Besides, State Transport buses were also used to pick and drop migrants to their respective state borders.
The reply also stated that 57 lists were received from NGOs with 36,800 names of “alleged migrant labourers” stranded in various districts of Maharashtra but only 23,800 were actual names. Of these, 6390 had already returned home, 7,813 were untraceable and 7,175 wished to return. It also stated that despite huge loss to the exchequer, the government will book trains for identified stranded migrants and refund fares of migrants who have boarded train booked by the state.
CITU’s rejoinder by its general secretary Vivek Monteiro, said any fault of “wasting money” in the way in which Shramik trains were run lies with the State government and not trade unions and NGOs. “Further it was the State government that decided suo motu to bear the costs of migrant workers travelling through Shramik trains, and the State was not forced to undertake such a policy decision under coercion or even through orders of the court,” it added.