New Delhi: “There is no need for migrant workers to travel to their native places during the lockdown as their daily needs are being taken care of”, the Centre told the Supreme Court, highlighting its response to combat the spread of coronavirus in the country.  Union Home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla filed a second status report in the apex court in response to a plea by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, seeking relief for migrant workers including payment of wages. Also Read - Haryana Joins List of States That Will Vaccinate Journalists on Priority. Details Here

In the status report, Bhalla said that the government has allowed migrant workers to withdraw EPFO money advance and as on April 9, 1,49,891 members have availed of the facility. Besides, the central government is also taking care of psycho-social issues in shelter homes where migrant workers are staying and experts and counsellors from Central mental health institutes are visiting there. Also Read - 2-Deoxy-D-glucose, DRDO-Developed Anti-COVID Drug Gets Emergency Use Approval

“In view of the steps taken by the government, it is submitted that there is no necessity for migration of workers to shift from places of their occupation to the place of their residence and rush back to their villages, Their daily needs are being taken care of wherever they are working and the daily needs of their family members were being taken care of at their respective villages,” the status report filed on an affidavit said. Also Read - PM Dials Chief Ministers Of 4 States To Discuss Covid Situation In Their States. Read Details

Furthermore, it claimed that the movement of migrant workers on their own in large numbers during the lockdown defeats the very objective of the preventive measures taken by the central government.

“As per the latest statistics furnished by the state governments and Union territories, 37,978 relief camps have already been set up by state governments and Union Territories and genuine NGOs. Nearly 14.3 lakh persons have been housed in these camps. In addition to the above, 26,225 food camps have also been opened giving food to nearly 1.34 crore persons,” the affidavit read.

The Centre further informed that directions have been issued to district administration and superintendent of police to ensure migrant workers and other poor people who are living in rented accommodation are not compelled to pay rent by their landlords.

“If any landlord flouts this direction, they shall be liable for action under the Disaster Management Act,” it said.

The government in the affidavit also claimed that the spread of COVID-19 in India is much slower than as has seen observed in several other countries following the on-going efforts by the central government. “The prompt measures particularly social distancing and lockdown have halted the spread of disease in the country so far”, it added.

(With inputs from agencies)