HC asks Railways to waive off one-way fares for migrants or levy it from states

A division bench of the Gujarat High Court consisting of Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Ilesh J. Vora confronted the Indian Railways for charging transportation fare from the migrant workers travelling to their home states. The bench asked the Railways to either waive off one-way amount for the labourers or retrieve the same from individual state governments.

The High Court sought a detailed report from the Gujarat government on the matter of migrant labourers and Covid-19. “The report reflects that the travel charges levied for the transportation of the migrant workers by Railways authorities are borne by a few host states, NGOs, employers and voluntary associations.

This is not done. We direct the Railway authorities to waive off one-way charges of these migrant labourers or in the alternative, for the State government to bear such charges,” the court ordered. The court further said, “The State Government shall ensure that the migrant workers do not have to face further difficulties to travel to their native. The work in this regard shall continue in the right direction.”

However, the Gujarat government also brought to notice that since several migrant workers had come to the state on their own, provisions of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1979 that covered displacement allowance and journey charges did not apply on them. There are 7,512 workers registered under the Act but most of the migrant workers in the state arrived on their own and can’t be covered.

It also added that Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have agreed on paying travel fares. Recently, the Karnataka High Court had pulled up the state government for taking the stand that it couldn’t bear the travel cost of the migrants from other states. Following the rap from the HC, the Yeddyurappa government decided to bear the rail fare of migrants.

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