In a response to the Supreme Court over the situation of migrant workers amid the nationwide lockdown, the Centre said there is a possibility that 3 out of 10 people moving from cities to rural areas could be carrying deadly coronavirus.

While hearing a plea by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava seeking directions to provide food and shelter to migrant workers, a bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justice L Nageswara Rao had yesterday asked the Centre to submit a report on the condition of such workers.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, while representing the Centre said there are 28 lakh people screened and nearly 3.5 lakh people are being monitored.

Mehta said according to the last census, there were about 4.14 crore persons who have migrated to work, and now backward migration is happening.

“There is a possibility of 3 out of 10 moving from cities to rural areas carrying the virus,” he said. He insisted that rural India is not affected due to coronavirus.

He further told that nearly 22.8 lakh migrant workers have been provided food and shelter by the government after they left the cities for their native villages. Many of these were stranded, after being stopped by authorities, on the way back to their villages. The Union Home Secretary, who was also part of the hearing, told the apex court that 6.63 lakh persons have been provided shelter so far.

The Centre is trying to ensure that no migration is allowed, as it will be risky for migrant workers and their respective village population, he said. Mehta contended there is also resistance from the villages to allow these people to come back in the backdrop of the outbreak of coronavirus infection.

“I have instructions to state that no one is now on the road. Anyone who was outside has been taken to the available shelters,” he said.