New Delhi: Migrant workers suffered the worst of the 68-day nationwide lockdown due to job losses that made them walk miles to reach their home states without shelter or any means of transportation. While scores of them died due to the restrictions imposed, the government has “no such data available” on the number of migrant deaths or the job losses. Also Read - 'World-Class Service Provider, Left an Indelible Mark': Tributes Pour in From Political Circle on Demise of Suresh Angadi
The Ministry of Labour and Employment, in a written reply to the Parliament, said that the Centre did not maintain any state-wise break-up of the distribution of free ration and other subsidies being provided to migrant workers. Also Read - Parliament Adjourns Sine Die, Monsoon Session Cut Short by Eight Days Over Coronavirus Concerns
The response was given during the Question Hour in Lok Sabha today when asked about information on the details of the death toll of migrant labourers who lost their lives while trying to return to their native states. The question also sought to know if there was any compensation or economic aid for the workers and their families who lost jobs. Also Read - Reassess COVID Situation, Focus on Micro Containment Zones: PM Modi to CMs of 7 Worst-hit States
To this, the Centre replied that there was no question of compensating the victims’ families as there was no data maintained by the government.
“The States/UTs have been advised to take adequate steps to streamline the migration of the workers to mitigate the hardships of migrant workers returning to the destination States/UTs,” the written reply stated.
On being asked if it failed to assess the difficulties faced by migrants during lockdown, the government stated, “India, as a nation, has responded through the central government, state governments, local bodies, self-help groups, resident welfare associations, medical health professionals, sanitation workers as well as a large number of genuine and bonafide nongovernmental organisations in the nation’s fight against the unprecedented human crisis due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and country-wide lockdown.”
More than 1.04 crore migrant workers have returned to their home places after facing job losses due to the coronavirus-infused lockdown. Many of them walked back and met with accidents on their way home, while many others collapsed due to the heat and shortage of food.
The central government arranged special ‘Shramik’ trains in May and the Railways has run more than 4,611 trains since then to ferry migrants to their home states. Meanwhile, nearly 63.07 lakh labourers were shifted to various destinations in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, apart from other states.