The Supreme Court Tuesday directed states and Union Territories to implement the ‘one nation, one ration card’ scheme by July 31, and said they “must run community kitchens to feed migrants till the end of the pandemic,” news agency PTI reported. The apex court also ordered the Centre to provide dry ration for free distribution among migrant workers till the situation eases.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and M R Shah had on June 11 reserved its judgment on pleas of activists Anjali Bharadwaj, Harsh Mander and Jagdeep Chhokar seeking the implementation of welfare measures for migrant workers hit hard again by the curbs imposed during the second wave of Covid-19.
The bench has said the ration scheme is for welfare of poor citizens as it allows migrant workers to get ration at the place of their work in other states as well where their ration cards are not registered. The bench directed the Centre to develop a portal with the help of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) for registration of unorganised sector workers for granting them the benefits of welfare schemes by July 31. It also directed the states, UTs to run community kitchens for migrant workers till the COVID pandemic continues.
The state governments and the UT administrations shall bring a scheme to provide dry ration to migrant workers by July 31 and such a scheme will remain till COVID situation continues, the top court said. The bench directed states and UTs to register all establishments and contractors under the Inter-state Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service Act) 1979.
On May 24, the top court had said the process of registration of unorganised workers was “very slow” and had directed authorities to provide dry ration and make operational community kitchens for migrant workers stranded throughout the country.
Referring to the resurgence of Covid-19 infections and consequent curbs, the activists have said in their plea that the problems faced by migrant workers during the lockdown in 2020 have persisted over the past year due to the continued economic distress, and have now got aggravated on account of fresh restrictions, curfews and lockdowns being imposed in many states to control the spread of Covid.