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Localised lockdowns: States tell Centre they don’t see mass return of migrants

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Several state governments have told the Centre that they were not anticipating any exodus of migrant workers this time around due to the partial and localised lockdowns and other restrictions imposed in the wake of Covid surge.
“States have said that they are not facing any problem with regard to the migrant workers, as of now. They said that there has been no exodus, neither they are anticipating these workers to leave en masse in the coming days,” union labour secretary Apurva Chandra, who chaired a meeting with his state counterparts earlier in the week, told FE.
Chandra said neither states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (from where workers move to other places in normal times) nor states like Maharashtra (where migrants go to) were sensing any problem.

Last year, the labour ministry set up call centres across the country to address wage-related grievances of workers employed in the Central Sphere and to mitigate the problems of migrant workers through coordination with various state governments. Chandra said such centres are being run even now, but these are not receiving distress calls thus far. Railway officials, who also attended the meeting, said no shramik special trains are running now.

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With the outbreak of the pandemic last year that induced lockdown across the country, scores of migrant workers left their places of work to head to their respective native places even on foot, portraying a very embarrassing picture for the country. The Centre received a lot of flak for this from various quarters. Following this, the government has initiated various initiatives to address the issues related to migrant workers.

The labour ministry has, on April 1, launched field work for conducting an all-India survey of migrant workers. It will survey the households having internal migrants with a special focus on migrant workers and to understand Covid’s impact on migrant workers. The Inter-state Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 in the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 was notified on September 29 last year.

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