Karnataka Govt. to pay for migrant workers' train costs

The Karnataka state government has announced that it will pay for the costs of travelling of the migrant workers and stranded persons by Shramik trains to reach their native place after Karnataka High Court directs the State government and the Central government to give clear remarks regarding the policy of bearing the travel costs of the migrants from other states.

Earlier, the court heard several matters on the sufferings of migrant workers and had held that, it is the constitutional right of a migrant worker to get an opportunity to go back to their own state, and this right should not be denied only by the reason that they were not able to pay for themselves, as their inability to pay for the ticket is the loss of livelihood due to the lockdown. The bench also added that the government has the duty to ensure that every worker returns their home safely at the earliest. That, these workers have made a huge contribution to the Indian economy and development of the states and therefore the government should not abandon them when they are facing distress.

The court asked the Central government to issue instructions on whether the state government is permitted to use the funds transferred by the National Disaster Response Fund, to pay for the tickets of Shramik trains for those who are not able to pay for themselves.

The Karnataka government had earlier said that it can only bear the costs of the migrants returning to Karnataka from other states and that the fares for other migrants staying in Karnataka should be paid by their native state. However, the court pointed out that this was contrary to central government’s policy and that a classification based on origin, is against the fundamental rights of such people. To which, the state government responded that the state does not have a statutory duty to provide free transportation cost.

The bench said that the issue is not only about the migrants going back to their homes, it is also their inability to survive themselves and their family. They’re living in a difficult condition without any money, proper food and shelter. That these are human issues that should be addressed by the Central and the State government.

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