Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
A little ago the Orissa High Court has given a verdict that no migrant worker of the State can enter into its area unless medical test certify that COVID-19 is not found in his/her body. According to the judgment given in a PIL, the homebound migrants must be subjected to medical test and found virus-negative before entering into the State.
This judgment should immediately be challenged in the Supreme Court, as it is bound to affect the life of several lakhs of Oriyas.
Despite some minor lacunae in management, I am sure the steps Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has taken in Corona context IS THE BEST under the prevalent circumstances.
Every Panchayat has been equipped with quarantine facilities for the home-coming Oriyas, with provision of all essentials that they would be needing. Officers and staffs are kept in charge to assist the Panchayat leaders in taking care of the in-camp migrants.
The judgment would force the State to dismantle all these excellent camps in order to build up fresh camps in the borders to quarantine the homebound workers that are lakhs in numbers. There is no time for this, as every moments the workers would be reaching Orissa borders in lakhs. Paucity of funds for this rearrangement would put the State in total disarray.
On the other hand, if Orissa shall not allow its own nationals their legitimate space, why should the neighboring States allow?
Suppose a lakh of workers reach Orissa border at Chhattisgarh side. Under the High Court orders, Orissa asks them to stay outside till medical test shows them negative. Is there a ‘NO-STATE-ZONE’ between Orissa and Chattisgarh, where the workers shall stay for that entire period? Will the high Court verdict compel the Chhattisgarh Govt. to allow Orissa Govt to build up Corona Camps in its area?
COVID-19 is not a regional disaster. It is national in context of India. Similarly, the issue of migrant workers is not regional. It is national. There is no national policy on migrant workers put to enforced idleness in their working States due to lockdown.
The de facto terminated workers are ejected out of their hired houses also.
They are bound to return to their respective homes in this extraordinary emergency situation and they have the fundamental right to reach their home, whereby they may live their lives.
How can a State High Court deny them this fundamental right at the worst time of disaster and dismantle a State’s preparedness to receive these totally disadvantaged poor workers when they have no other way for survival than returning to their home state and to their permanent hearths?
The High Court judgment would endanger the life of several lakhs of Oriyas, when the Orissa Government has made all arrangements in all the Panchayats to take appropriate care of the returning workers.
No time should be lost in challenging this judgment in the Supreme Court.