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Arrange to send back 686 labourers stranded at Azadpur Mandi: HC to AAP govt

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has directed the AAP government to work with the state legal services authority to make arrangements for sending 686 migrant labourers, stranded at Azadpur Mandi here since the COVID-19 lockdown, to their native places.

The direction issued by a bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad asked the Delhi government to ensure that the workers are informed in advance about the mode of transport arranged for them as also the date and time of departure.

The order came after a Delhi government survey of workers at the Azadpur market indicated that 686 labourers there wanted to return to their native places.

The court said a travel schedule needs to be prepared and communicated to the workers so that all of them do not land up together at the inter-state bus terminals or railway stations.

The bench directed the Delhi government to work in collaboration with the Delhi State Legal Services Authority for this purpose.

It also directed the Delhi government to set up a help desk in the evenings, post 6.00 pm, at the Azadpur Mandi so that shelter and ready meals can be offered to those returning their late in the evening and usually spend the nights in the open.

It directed the Delhi government to file an affidavit indicating compliance of its directions and listed the matter for further hearing on June 24.

The directions came on a plea by the Potato and Union Masakhour Merchant Association which has sought directions to the Delhi government to ensure that the nearly 1,000 labourers stranded at Azadpur Mandi here since the COVID-19 lockdown are provided "two square meals" each day and provided proper shelter.

As per the court's last direction on June 9 to find out the exact number of workers stranded at the Mandi, the Delhi government carried out a survey and filed a report stating that 882 labourers were registered at their help desk set up at the marketplace.

The report stated that out of the 882 workers, 849 gave their permanent residential address as outside Delhi and remaining did not disclose it.

The survey also found that around 143 labourers were staying within the marketplace, either in sheds or shops of local traders and the rest in nearby rented accommodation.

With regard to providing meals to the workers, the report stated that 436 labourers brought food from home and the remaining 446 were getting ready meals from a nearby hunger relief centre.

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