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Tie-up with industries, skill training, job schemes — plans states are making for migrants

UP has already sent list of over 3.5 lakh workers to industry associations while Jharkhand is planning an urban wage employment scheme.

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New Delhi: With over 1 crore migrant workers reaching home from cities and most of them unwilling to leave their villages in the short term, many states have set the ball rolling to provide livelihoods to them.

The central government had informed the Supreme Court last week that 1 crore migrant workers had reached their home states as of 3 June.

The states are now devising rehabilitation strategies based on the number of migrant workers who have returned and the skills they have. For the rural workforce, almost all states are leaning on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). But for skilled and semi-skilled workers, the states have been tying up with industry bodies to employ them.

In Uttar Pradesh, for instance, the builders’ associations, following a meeting with the state government, have requisitioned 2.5 lakh workers. “As against this, we have already given them a list containing names, addresses and contact details of 2.8 lakh migrant workers,” Navneet Sehgal, MSME Secretary, UP, told ThePrint. “The real estate companies are contacting the workers. After assessing their skills, the workers will be given work or will be reskilled before they are taken.”

Sehgal said that besides real estate companies, the Noida Apparel Association had asked for 2 lakh workers. “We have already provided them a list of 65,000 tailors who have returned. The companies after assessing the skill set will place the workers,” Sehgal said.

Sehgal, however, added that UP is not looking at short-term livelihood measures for the migrants. “Our endeavour is to not let any of them return. We are making our plans accordingly,” he added.

Also read: Modi govt wants states to employ returning migrant workers in Har Ghar Nal Se Jal projects

Some states looking at short-term plans

Many other states like Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar and Rajasthan are currently looking at short-to-mid-term plans to rehabilitate the migrant workers.

“So far, we have registered 2.5 lakh migrant workers who have returned and are mapping their skills. Once the exercise is complete, they will be absorbed in SMEs, various ancillary units, hotel industry, etc. Those who are not skilled or are semi-skilled will be given special training,” said Sukhdeo Singh, Chief Secretary, Jharkhand.

As of now, Singh said, the workers who have returned are staying put. “Majority of them are not planning to return immediately,” he said.

Jharkhand is also planning to launch an urban wage employment scheme that will guarantee minimum wage to workers in urban areas. “It’s the urban version of MGNREGA,” a second official working with the Jharkhand government said.

The official said most of the migrant workers are expected to stay anywhere between three and six months. “We are planning accordingly. The state has a large rural economy so bulk of the migrants who have returned will be absorbed under MGNREGA,” the official said.

Odisha too has made MGNREGA the fulcrum of its effort to rehabilitate migrants in rural areas.

The state has launched a Rs 17,000-crore Special Livelihood Intervention Plan under which migrant workers will be given employment.

“The livelihood support programme is aimed at those living in rural areas. Work is on to also rehabilitate those who worked in industries and have some or the other skillset,” said a Odisha government official, who did not want to be named.

The official said they are looking at a one-year time frame before the majority of the workers return to cities.

A challenge in Bihar

UP and Bihar top the list of states where migrant workers have returned to in the aftermath of the nationwide lockdown that was enforced on 25 March.

On its part, Bihar has already completed skill mapping of 1.2 million workers so far. “However, we are yet to start giving them work. It’s a challenge for us,” a state government official said.

Bihar, another official said, is also among the states from where some of the migrants have started going back to cities. “The fact is that there is not much work here in the state. So wherever, employers/ industry owners are financing the return trip of the workers, they are going back,” the official added.

While states like UP, Bihar, Odisha are devising schemes to provide livelihood to the migrant workers who have returned, for states like Haryana and Punjab, it’s a different issue. The two states have a number of migrant workers who have not returned to their native states.

In Haryana, for instance, the state government is providing distress cards to migrant workers and other vulnerable groups. “They can get free food grains with the distress cards. Until industries resume work in full steam, we are ensuring that the labour has food and cash to make ends meet,” a senior Haryana government official said.

In Punjab, a state government official said, most of the labourers who stayed back have resumed work in the fields. And those who went back are being pursued to return to the state, with wealthy farmers and owners of some industrial units offering them confirmed train tickets, advance payments and more labour charges.

Also read: New class of poor’ emerging after job losses in lockdown, 95.8% BPL slum families hit: Study


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  1. Good initiative by state governments ,
    These are the young population profile that we are taking pride of in our population composition of the
    Akanda Bharat.Poverty in the young age is is a curse and has crippling effect on persons and families,
    This should not happen to them.Also vultures like money lenders may like to pounce on them during this
    times.Distress cards and ration supply of essentials might help boost morale and keep them fit for training or work,Some officers with empathy and socially inclined should be entrusted with this responsibility,NGO s services in this field may also be used to supplement state efforts.
    The central govt.who is the culprit for this mass exodus problem should review periodically the
    migrants support system thru a high level monitoring committer and fill resource gaps such as funds and or food grains etc as required.
    In god we trust.

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