New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it was providing food to nearly 23 lakh people, as the top court took up a petition, seeking relief for thousands of migrants who are left without work and are desperate to reach home, in the wake of the ongoing 21-day nationwide lockdown, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last Tuesday, in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Also Read - AAP MLA Raghav Chadha Claims UP CM Yogi Adityanath Getting Migrants 'Thrashed'; Cops Register FIR
The petition in the apex court to this effect has been filed by SC advocate Alakh Alok Shrivastava. Also Read - ‘Shameful to Treat Indian Citizens Like This,’ Says Rahul Gandhi on Exodus of Migrants Due to Lockdown
Today, Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta told the court that due to the lockdown, there was a complete prohibition on interstate migration, adding that as of 11 AM today, ‘there are no migrant workers on the roads.’ Also Read - Arvind Kejriwal Assures CMs Over Migrants, Says 'Will do Everything Possible to Help Them'
“Over 22 lakh, 88 thousand people being provided food. These are needy persons, migrants and daily wagers. They have been kept in shelters,” he added.
Also remarking, on the Centre’s behalf, that ‘fake news’ was its biggest challenge, SG Mehta said that the government was also considering providing counselling to address the panic.
Chief Justice SA Bobde has directed the government to constitute an expert committee on COVID-19 in 24 hours.
Notably, in the wake of PM Modi’s announcement of the lockdown, large-scale migration has taken place, with migrants, many accompanied by families, trying to return to their home states-in many cases, from one state to another. Due to shutdown of public transport as a part of the ongoing lockdown, they have been forced to walk long distances to reach home.
India has thus far recorded 1,251 positive cases of coronavirus, including 32 deaths.