The top court also directed the states to provide food to the migrants wait for their turn to board train or bus.
The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Centre to ensure free travel to stranded migrants to their home states by trains and buses even as the government contended that it is taking “unprecedented steps” to meet the challenging crisis during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The court was hearing a suo motu case initiated by it on the migrant labourers’ situation.
The government has repeatedly told that the fare is not being charged from the labourers, explaining that the railway ministry is carrying 85% of the ticket fare and the state governments 15%.
The top court also directed the states to provide food to the migrants wait for their turn to board train or bus. The states should set up help desks to disseminate information about arrangements made for migrant workers. The railways too have been ordered to provide food during the course of the travel.
The Centre told the top court that it has sent 97 lakh migrant workers – 50 lakh by Shramik Specials and 47 lakh via road – home between May 1 and 27, adding 80 percent of those are from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.