RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak has claimed that the Chief Labour Commissioner (CLC) does not possess the state-wise or district-wise data on the number of migrant workers under distress due to the Coronavirus lockdown in the country.

Although, the CLC had directed its regional heads in 20 centres around the country to enumerate every migrant worker stranded due to the lockdown within three days during the second week of April, said Nayak.

“On April 21, I submitted an online RTI application to the CLC seeking the data of migrants stranded and placed in various temporary shelters/relief camps or other places,” said the RTI activist.

On May 5, after the lockdown 3.0 was implemented, Nayak got an automated email stating that his RTI application had been disposed of with the reply, “As per the stat section is concerned, no such details are available based on the requisite information.”

“There was no indication whether my RTI application would be transferred to any other section or public authority, or if any effort would be made to collate the information from the enumeration exercise and make it publicly available,” said Nayak.

“So the CLC CPIO’s cryptic one-line reply raises serious doubts about the availability of data about migrant workers despite the launching of the enumeration exercise,” he added.

He pointed out that hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, who had migrated from their home states to other cities, towns or villages, suddenly found themselves jobless and penniless as the economy ground to a halt due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown.

With inter-state borders sealed during the lockdown periods, they were forced into government-run relief camps or shelter camps or at their work sites or bundled up in clusters on highways and open spaces, said the social worker.

There had been numerous reports of thousands of migrants protesting and demanding their return to their home states and some even attempted to sneak their way out in tankers, containers, concrete mixers, while many others walked hundreds or thousands of kms to reach their homes.

Nayak had filed a complaint with the Central Information Commission (CIC) in this matter, seeking an early hearing but as there are already around 35,000 cases pending before the CIC, this matter may come up for hearing in 2021 when the information would have lost relevance.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in India soared to 49,391 on Wednesday including the 14,182 people who have been treated and discharged so far, with 111 new deaths since Tuesday evening, the death toll due to the pandemic rose to 1,694 on Wednesday while. As many as 2,680 new infections have been reported since last evening.