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Modi govt to create short-term job opportunities for migrants in 116 ‘Atma Nirbhar districts’

Each of the districts chosen has over 25,000 migrant workers, who have returned after the 25 March lockdown imposed to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.

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New Delhi: Creating short-term job opportunities for migrants based on their skills will be one of the key focuses of Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s Atma Nirbhar Abhiyan that will target 116 districts with over 25,000 migrant workers, ThePrint has learnt.

Union Rural Development Secretary N.N. Sinha has been made the coordinator of the employment generation-cum-skill programme.

As part of the programme, the Centre has selected 116 districts, called the ‘Atma Nirbhar districts’ across six states.

Different central ministries along with the respective state governments have been tasked to identify areas where there is scope for employing the migrant workers.

Besides, the government will also provide skill training to those who are unskilled or semi-skilled. The state governments have already started mapping the skills of the migrant workers who have returned.

“At least half-a-dozen central ministries including agriculture, rural development, skill development and highways have been roped in. They will match the skill of individual workers with the jobs available before they are absorbed,” said a senior government official who did not want to be named.

The employment-cum-skilling proposal has already been submitted to the prime minister’s office.

Also read: India could see millions pushed into extreme poverty due to pandemic: World Bank analysis

‘Targeting districts where over 25,000 migrants have returned’

A central team of officials will be constituted with a mandate to visit the 116 districts in six states to supervise implementation. The states include Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

“It was decided to specifically target districts where over 25,000 migrant workers have returned so that concerted efforts could be made to provide them livelihood. The focus will be on providing short-term employment as we think that the migrants will return after three to six months,” a second official said.

According to data compiled by the Union skill development ministry, at least 67 lakh migrant workers have returned to the 116 districts until now. Of this, the maximum number of migrants have returned to Bihar.

Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers were forced to return to their villages after the Centre decided to impose a nation-wide lockdown on 25 March to contain the spread of Covid-19. The lockdown left lakhs of migrants without job and money to meet their day to day requirements.

Left with no resources to sustain themselves, the migrants started returning to their villages on foot. The Centre was forced to step in following stringent opposition criticism and provided buses and special migrant trains to transport them back to their villages.

Also read: No industry can survive without workers: SC bats for negotiations on lockdown wage payment


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