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Centre holds meet with states on impact of surge in Covid cases on migrant workers; no exodus yet

Twenty-one Monitoring Centres have been activated across the country by the Office of Chief Labour Commissioner (Central).

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

The Centre has reviewed the states’ preparedness to deal with the impact of rising Covid-19 cases on migrant workers, but there are no reports of workers’ exodus from anywhere yet.

At the review meeting conducted by Labour and Employment Secretary Sunil Barthwal, the state officials were advised to reassure the migrant workers regarding their safety, security and livelihood.

Twenty-one Monitoring Centres have been activated across the country by the Office of Chief Labour Commissioner (Central).

State Governments informed the Labour and Employment Secretary that barring night curfews and weekend curfews at few places, where the Covid cases were rising, there were no restrictions on construction or business activities, running of shops and industrial activities.

So far, there was no report of unusual movement of migrant workers owing to the limited restrictions imposed by the Governments, the state officials said.

Some media reports of mass exodus regarding movement of migrant workers to their home states were found to be untrue and it was also noticed that such reporting was based on old photographs.

As on the day of review, the business situation is normal throughout the country except 50 per cent restrictions on workforce at some places, the review revealed.

The Central as well as the state governments are keeping a close watch on the situation and are fully ready to tackle the situation as per demand of the situation, the review meet was told.

Some state governments have already made plans for distributing dry rations to needy labourers, if required. Some others have made preparations to provide financial assistance from the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) cess fund and Social Security fund available with the states.

Railways is also keeping a very close watch on the situation particularly at the major railway stations like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Secundrabad etc and is ready to provide special trains in case the situation demands.

All states and Union Territories have been advised to keep a close liaison with the local Railway Authorities.

State Labour Commissioners confirmed that the functioning at construction sites, factories and establishment has remained undisrupted and there is no exodus of workers, especially migrant workers, back to their home states.

The state governments are fully ready to provide all assistance to prevent any hardships to the workers. Both, labour supplying states and labour receiving states were advised by the Secretary to work in close coordination to tackle any migrant workers’ situation if need arises.

It was pointed out by the Union Secretary that over 21 crore unorganised workers have registered themselves on e-Shram Portal. All State/UT Governments were requested to put in place a mechanism to maintain a record of the migrant workers and register the remaining workers on the e-Shram Portal.

This will facilitate the state governments to plan and deliver financial and other benefits to them at appropriate time. Toll free helplines have been opened by the States.

The Director of the Department of Food and Public Distribution informed that there is no unusual spurt seen under One Nation One Ration Card as far as ration pick up is concerned.

The States/ UTs were also requested to maintain records of returnee migrant workers, if any. The states have also been asked to be wary of rumour mongering on exodus and take quick steps to counter such rumours.

Barthwal held the review meeting through video conferencing. It was attended by Additional Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, Secretaries of State Labour Departments and Labour Commissioners of all the States/UTs and officers of Ministry of Railway and Department of Food and Public Distribution.