Migrants stand in a queue outside a railway station to board a train to Jharkhand, during the ongoing Covid-19 nationwide lockdown, in Jalandhar. (Representational image) | PTI
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New Delhi: Agreements with industrial firms such as FICCI to generate new job opportunities, career counselling helpdesks, an integrated portal with data bank on the present skills of migrants — these are some of the innovative measures the Uttar Pradesh government has come up with to help over 30 lakh migrants, who have returned to the state after they were left unemployed due to the Covid lockdown.  

In an extensive affidavit filed before the Supreme Court this week, the state said that it had brought back all its migrants stranded in other states in compliance with the SC’s 9 June order.

The court took sou motu cognizance of the plight of migrants reported in the media and the affidavit was filed in that regard.

The UP government stated around 22 lakh migrants have returned via Shramik Trains, maximum of which originated from Gujarat, followed by Maharashtra. The remaining workers came back on buses.

The state has also appended details of the skill-mapping of around 37.76 lakh migrants, an exercise that was carried out to ascertain their past employment details.

According to the statistics, almost 15.61 lakh labourers were unskilled, while over 10 lakh — both men and women — worked in the construction industry. 

A little over one lakh migrants were found to be aged between 15-18 years, of which 26,446 were employed as construction workers, according to the affidavit.

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The state has highlighted the schemes it has floated to generate employment opportunities for the migrants in the next six to 12 months. Involvement of self-help groups (SHGs) during the Covid crisis, it said, has also created jobs for the migrants as an interim measure.

On the court’s suggestion to withdraw criminal prosecution against migrants, who defied lockdown measures, the state submitted it had issued an order on 16 June in accordance with the direction. It said out of the 52 cases registered, the police had filed charge sheet in 44, while investigation was pending in 8.

Also read: SC takes note of migrant crisis, tells Centre & states to give free transport, food, shelter

Employment through MSME units

The micro, small and medium-scale enterprises department, the state said, has entered into agreements with industrial firms such as Laghu Udyog Bharti, Indian Industries Association and FICCI to provide employment to around 11 lakh migrant workers who have returned.

According to the state government’s plan, these jobs would be created in the next six months, and by year-end, the scheme shall cover 18.6 lakh migrants. 

Apart from this, 2.5 lakh jobs will be created through the schemes of small-scale departments, and Khadi and Rural industries department. The state is also looking at infusing funds into the various self-employment schemes and facilitating bank loans to set up new MSMEs so that more jobs can be generated for migrants.

A six-day free training programme has been launched to improve the skills of traditional artisans and craftsmen. The state has already received 5,995 online applications under this scheme that also entails providing Rs 10,000 to one lakh local craftsmen and artisans to set up small-scale industries. 

Skilled labourers such as carpenters, tailors, bucket weavers, barbers, goldsmiths, blacksmiths and potters will be covered as beneficiaries.

Centres for those who want to return to old jobs

Help of SHGs, the government said, was sought to mitigate the Covid crisis. Moreover, it gave rise to some job opportunities, providing interim relief to migrants. 

These SHGs were involved in manufacturing masks, PPE kits, sanitisers and prepare food in government community kitchens that continue to provide cooked food to migrants.

Some of the SHGs, it added, are being utilised for distributing food.  

Career counselling help desks have been set up at district and block levels. Migrant workers will be called at the centres for counselling and those who want to go back to their old workplaces will be given assistance by the district level helpdesks. Those who cannot visit the centres will be given assistance through a dedicated helpline.

According to the affidavit, an integrated portal with complete data of the present skill capacity level of migrant workers, labourers and resident workers will be set up.

This data bank will enable the government to organise training programmes, identify skill workers and hold on-the-spot training through apprenticeship while promoting opportunities for training in Industry.   

The government has also constituted the Uttar Pradesh Workers and Labours (employment and job) Commission “to achieve social and economic safety of the workers” in the state that will be headed either by the chief minister or a cabinet minister nominated by him.

Also read: If Modi govt had followed this 2018 SC order, migrants wouldn’t have had to flee the cities


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