coronavirus: Give food, shelter, basic amenities to migrant labourers: Centre to States

New Delhi | Lucknow:The Centre has asked state governments to provide food, shelter and basic amenities to unorganised sectors’ stranded migrant workers to prevent a nationwide exodus of labourers.

The directive from the Union home ministry followed reports that the Covid-19 triggered national lockdown had created hardship for migrant workers across the country. Exodus of industrial workers, agricultural labourers and workers of other unorganised sectors have the potential to spread the pandemic.

“States/UTs have been advised to make the vulnerable groups aware of the measures taken by the government including provision of free grain and other essential

items through public distribution system and streamline the distribution system. This would help prevent avoidable movement of such people,” the MHA statement issued on Friday said.

MHA advised states to ensure that hotels, rented accommodations, hostels etc., remained functional and delivery of essential items were streamlined so that students and working women hostel inmates continued to live in existing facilities, observing precautions. Following the directive, UP made some key announcements.

“UP CM Adityanath had telephonic interactions with CMs of different states and he appealed to them to make arrangements for people from UP working in their states. The CM has appointed a nodal officer each to engage with each state,” UP’s additional secretary (home) Awanish Awasthi said in Lucknow on Friday.

The state also made 11 committees helmed by principal secretaries of different departments to oversee different functions. In Noida, around 600 workers were picked up by the administration after Thursday midnight and buses were arranged to take them to their destinations.

The state has been trying to set up community kitchens to feed workers even as the exodus continues. Owner of a prominent construction company in Gujarat has said the company is taking care of the contractual labourers it has employed and will continue to harbour them at construction camps throughout the 21-day lockdown.

However, not all workers are associated with contractors. “I had the zero khaata book and aadhaar card at my home in Bahraich but it was lost in the flood,” said 55-year old Kamla, a rick-puller. Kamla has been in the city for over 8 years. Another rickshaw puller said while he had the passbook, he had never used it and did not know where to take it.

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