On April 19, 2020, the Delhi High court observed that the state government and the central government has failed to think about the daily wage earners and migrant labourers during lockdown 2020 and that after the imposition of the fresh lockdown of six days in Delhi, lessons ought to be learned from previous mistakes to alleviate the problems of the migrant workers.
The high court has urged the government to take appropriate steps in order to not repeat the same mistake this year.
The bench also observed that it is the civil societies that took care of the needs of the migrant workers and provided them with food and necessities during lockdown 2020.The bench said, "We may say with our own experience, and that the State failed to do enough. Both the state and central governments have miserably failed." It added, "You left it to the good samaritans to come out of their houses and distribute food to the migrant labourers."
It was stated that the government did not utilize the thousands of crores of rupees it is sitting on. The Court said "We direct the GNCTD to ensure that the said Board utilizes the monies lying with it, inter alia, to provide food, medicines and other necessities to workers...The Central Government should examine the availability of oxygen in different states in the country in the context of the spread of the pandemic so that the oxygen could be made available to the areas.”
Status of migrant labourers
The pandemic had adversely affected the labourers during the 2020 lockdown. Their plight was not hidden from anyone. People and civil societies came forward to help the workers at that time. The same period has come back and after the announcement of lockdown in Delhi again, the workers have started to move back to their respective places.
The government and the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal requested the labourers and asked them to not go back as the lockdown will end soon and ensured them that all their necessities will be taken care of by the government. However, the past experience and fastly increasing cases are probably compelling the labourers to not trust the government and go back to their base.
Presently, bus terminals and railway stations are full and the covid protocols are completely at stake as the migrants (mostly from the states of Bihar and UP) are frantically returning to their respective states.