The plight of the migrants travelling on special trains becoming clearer by the day with repeated reports of hunger, exhaustion and deaths, the Supreme Court today took up the issue, and asked some hard questions about what the Centre and states have done to help the people. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the Centre, faced at least 50 questions from the three-judge bench that involved food, funding, shelter and the entire logistics of transportation.
“The major problem is the transportation of migrants and providing them food. The first problem is of transport. They are waiting for weeks even after registration. Are these people being asked to shell out any money at any stage? How is the state paying,” the judges questioned.
“We accept that it’s not possible to transport everyone at the same time. But food and shelter must be given till they can get transport,” the court said.
Calling the situation “unprecedented”, the government said around 91 lakh migrants have been transported to their states since the special train service was started on May 1. Over the last days, the railways has provided 84 lakh meals to them, said the government, adding that it would not stop its efforts or the train service “till even a single migrant remains”.
On Tuesday, the court said there have been inadequacies and lapses on part of both Central and the state governments.
Directing all states and Centre to provide relief immediately to the stranded migrants, the court said they should file their affidavits on the action taken to provide relief to them.
A host of petitions have been filed on the issue so far, which includes pleas from the Congress and activist Medha Patkar.