‘Migrants play very vital role in nation building’

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In April this year, the apex court sought compliance reports within four weeks from the Centre and states on actions have been taken to comply with its June 2021 order to provide food and social security to migrant workers…reports Asian Lite News

The Supreme Court on Thursday said it is a matter of concern that people are still dying of hunger despite the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and migrants play a very vital role in building the nation and their rights cannot be ignored at all.

A bench of Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna said in a welfare society, in our country, two persons are most important – farmers and migrant labourers, and migrants play an important role in building the nation. “They cannot be ignored at all,” it said.

The bench said that no citizen in the country should die of hunger and the Centre and states must act to provide them food, and asked the Centre to devise a mechanism so that migrants receive food grains without ration cards. It added that Centre’s welfare schemes must reach a maximum number of workers and state governments should cooperate.

In April this year, the apex court sought compliance reports within four weeks from the Centre and states on actions have been taken to comply with its June 2021 order to provide food and social security to migrant workers.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Central government, contended that approximately 27.95 crore unorganised labourers or migrant workers have been registered as on July 11 on a portal, based on states’ information. She added that an e-Shram portal has been launched to help people like migrant workers, construction workers, etc, and also there is National Career Service portal, a one-stop solution to provide a wide array of employment.

The bench said: “They may be illiterate and may not know how to avail benefits of government schemes. Concerned states will have to ensure benefits of the scheme reaches them.”

Bhati added that Centre has introduced Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan (PM-SYM), a pension scheme for unorganised workers, and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana has been extended till September. She added additional grains can be procured by states from the Food Corporation of India.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing three activists, alleged that the Centre is asking states to buy ration at market rates and in the absence of ration cards, a majority of workers are deprived of ration. He said the census of 2011 is being used for beneficiaries under the NFSA and there has been a 15 per cent increase in the population eligible for ration cards.

The bench said using 2011 data may be an injustice to the needy, and the authority concerned must look into it. “You have to fix the criteria and introspect on this. All efforts should be made by the state governments so that migrants have ration cards,” said the bench, adding that it will pass some orders on the matter.

The top court scheduled the hearing on the matter after two weeks.

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