Fear, panic bigger problems than Coronavirus, says Supreme Court

Updated: Mar 31, 2020, 08:38 IST | Agencies | New Delhi

Seeks status report from the Centre by Tuesday on the measures taken to prevent the exodus.

A screen grab shows healthcare workers, in protective suits, spraying a solution through a hose pipe on migrants before allowing them to enter the town of Bareilly, on Monday. Pic/PTI
A screen grab shows healthcare workers, in protective suits, spraying a solution through a hose pipe on migrants before allowing them to enter the town of Bareilly, on Monday. Pic/PTI

As thousands of migrant workers walking back to their native places after being rendered jobless due to the Coronavirus lockdown, the Supreme Court on Monday observed that the panic and fear is becoming a "bigger problem than Coronavirus", and sought a status report from the Centre by Tuesday on the measures taken to prevent the exodus. The court said it would not create more confusion by issuing directions on measures which the government is already taking. Hearing two separate petitions through video-conferencing, Chief Justice Bobde and Justice L Nageswara Rao said before passing any direction, it would like to wait for the status report from the Centre.

The PILs, filed by advocates, Alakh Alok Srivastava and Rashmi Bansal, sought relief, including food, water, medicines and proper medical facilities, for thousands of migrant workers who are leaving for their native places after being rendered homeless and jobless due to the 21-day Coronavirus lockdown.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre said the migration needs to be stopped to prevent the spread of the virus and the Centre as well as concerned states have taken requisite steps to deal with it. Referring to various news stories, Srivastava, petitioner in-person, said there is lack of cohesion and cooperation between states on the issue of migration of labourers. The Uttar Pradesh government initially provided buses for movement of migrant labourers for two days and now
they have stopped the service, he added.

Reacting to Mehta's submission that Centre would like to file the status report on affidavit on the steps taken, the bench said, "We would not deal with the things, which the government is already doing. We would like to wait for the report of Centre". Bansal, another petitioner in-person, said medical and safety measures were required for these migrant labourers.

29
Total no. of deaths due to the virus in India

92
No. of COVID-19 new cases reported in last 24 hours

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