coronavirus crisis: States can use Rs 29,000 cr SDRF fund for food, shelter to migrant workers: MHA

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Saturday asked the state governments and Union Territory administrations to utilise the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), to which Rs 29,000 crore has been allocated for the next fiscal, for providing food and shelter to migrant workers hit by the 21-day lockdown.

Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Punya Salila Srivastava said the central government has also asked the states and UTs to set up camps for migrant workers fleeing cities and carry out their health check-ups.

Srivastava said the home ministry has asked the state governments and UT administrations to utilise the SDRF money for providing food and temporary shelters to the unorganised sector workers affected by the lockdown.

“Under the SDRF, whatever allocation is there in the current year, for the next year a total of Rs 29,000 crore has been allocated to the states under the SDRF. Therefore, there are enough funds with the states under the SDRF. We hope that with this fund, the states and UTs will be able to help the migrant workers,” she said at a press conference here.

Srivastava said Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has written another letter on Saturday asking them to set up camps for migrant workers and provide them food and shelter.

The states and UTs were also told to communicate about the availability of free food and accommodation to migrant workers through the public address system, volunteers and other mode of communications, she said.

The home secretary on Friday in his letter to chief secretaries also had emphasised on the issue of the difficulties being faced by the unorganised sector workers. The DGPs of the states were also told the same.

“The home ministry is constantly in discussions with the states and UTs on the issue of migrant workers,” she said, adding, steps should be taken so that the migrants would get information about these facilities.

On the availability of essential commodities during the lockdown, the joint secretary said the home ministry, along with the states and UTs, is constantly monitoring the movement of essential commodities and enforcement of the lockdown.

Asked about the issue of price rise in some parts of the country, she said the states and UTs are monitoring the situation and taking action wherever such incidents are coming into knowledge.

“The home ministry has already allowed cargo movement so that no such incident takes place,” she said.

On the question of some migrants facing difficulties in paying rent to house owners, Srivastava said it was a very important issue and that the central government has been insisting that migrant workers should remain wherever they are.

“Instructions were also given to convey this to the employers. State governments are aware about this issue and taking action,” she said.

Asked about the possibility of migrant workers carrying the disease, Srivastava said the home secretary in his letter specifically talked about providing accommodation to the migrants workers along with health check-ups so that their health parameters are known regularly.

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