New Delhi: The Centre told Tuesday the Supreme Court that no migrant worker was on the road, amid fears that the large-scale movement of these people from cities to their native places on foot after the coronavirus lockdown may trigger the spread of COVID-19 in country’s hinterland.
Asserting that such migration (from cities to villages) cannot be allowed, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also told a bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justice L Nageswara Rao that ‘there is a possibility of three out of 10 moving from cities to rural areas carrying the virus’.
Mehta’s submission came a day after the bench had sought a status report from the government on the steps taken to prevent the exodus of labourers from cities to their native places on foot after the imposition of a 21-day nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
The court is hearing two separate pleas that have raised the issue of large-scale migration of daily wagers and labourers after the imposition of the lockdown.
Appearing for the Central government, Mehta told the bench, which was hearing the matter through video conferencing, that so far, rural India is unaffected by coronavirus, and advisory has been issued to states regarding complete prohibition of inter-state migration to contain the spread of the virus.
“I have instructions to state that no one is now on the roads. Anyone who was outside has been taken to the available shelters,” Mehta said. “We are considering providing counseling to address the panic,” he added.
Mehta informed that the entire country was required to be locked down so that people do not mix and adhere to social distancing.
“We are trying to ensure that no migration is permitted to entire their respective states. It would be risky for them and for the village populations. So far, rural India is unaffected by coronavirus but there is a possibility of three out of 10 moving from cities to rural areas carrying the virus,” Mehta told the bench.
Mehta also told the bench that government would soon implement a system where panic of migrant workers would be addressed and they would also be given counselling. The bench, after hearing the submissions, asked the Centre to get trained counsellors and community leaders of all faiths to calm down the migrants, who are kept in shelter homes across the country.