The Telangana High Court on Monday took stock of migrant workers who were employed in brick kilns in the state and asked the state government to look after them.
A bench comprising Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy were hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by S Jeevan Kumar from the Human Rights Forum (HRF).
The petitioner's counsel informed the court that around 1.5 to 2 lakh workers were brought to various districts in Telangana, mostly from Odisha, in November last year, to work in the brick kilns. The court was informed that the workers travel with their families, including children, and usually work till the onset of monsoon, living in sheds and huts.
After this, they return home for sowing season as monsoon begins.
The petition expressed its concern and claimed that during the lockdown, many of the contractors were abandoning the workers. As they had stopped paying them, many workers were forced to begin walking home on the highways to reach their native places in Odisha, it said.
The PIL sought a direction from the court to ensure that the state government looks after the food and shelter of these workers, until arrangements are made to send them home.
Following this, the bench asked Advocate General BS Prasad to ensure that the workers were identified and basic amenities were provided to them, as per Supreme Court guidelines, until transport arrangements were made.
Last month, hundreds of migrant workers were turning up near Medchal at Hyderabad's Outer Ring Road (ORR), desperate to return home. While many were able to find a truck, pay them some money and begin their journey, those who couldn't afford to do so, continued their journey on foot. This included workers from brick kilns on the outskirts of the city.