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Published On: Fri, May 1st, 2020

Migrant Workers Jostle For Bananas At UP’s Prayagraj

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Uttar Pradesh, Apr 13 (ANI): People maintain social distance stand in a queue to take free food outside the Ishwar Sharan college community kitchen during a nationwide lockdown against the coronavirus, in Prayagraj on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

NEW DELHI : International Labour Day is an official public holiday all over the world in various countries. It is observed every year to pay tribute to the contribution of workers across the world. Considering the crisis faced by the workers globally, the theme of International Labour Day or May Day 2020 is Coronavirus as decided by the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problems faced by the Migrant Labourers in India
Migrant labourers and their families in India generally survive on a hand-to-mouth existence. They do not have any substantial savings that could help them on a rainy day. The lockdown because of the pandemic has resulted in the loss of employment for these workers. With no income and high expenses of city-life, the labourers are keen on going back to their villages.
Many migrant labourers in India live on the grounds of their work in temporary accommodations. As the lockdown has caused a shutdown of many such sites, the workers are stranded with nowhere to live and nothing to eat.
Uncertainty of life caused because of the outbreak of the pandemic has also generated fears among the migrant workers of not being able to meet their families. This has caused panic among them with many going to the extent of walking hundreds of kilometres to be with their loved ones. Actions by the central government for the Migrant Labourers in India
The central government has authorised the return of migrant labourers, students, pilgrims or tourists who do not have symptoms of coronavirus to their home states. Additionally, in its order, the home ministry has asked the states to appoint nodal bodies and draw up protocols for the movement of stranded people.

“The moving person(s) would be screened and those found asymptomatic would be allowed to proceed,” the government said. After arriving at their destination, they will have to stay in home quarantine for 14 days, unless institutional quarantine is advised, the order said. Buses will be allowed for the interstate movement of the people and they should be sanitised between trips, the order read. The rules of social distancing should be maintained in the seating arrangements.
The central government has also begun one of the most comprehensive exercises to map migrant workers scattered across the country. The government wants to create a database of millions of such workers to ascertain whether a relief package could be announced for the most affected segment of the workforce.

For the workers living in rented accommodations in cities, the Centre has issued directions to the district administration and superintendent of police to ensure migrant workers and other poor people are not compelled to pay rent by their landlords.
The government has allowed the migrant labourers in India to withdraw EPFO money advance and as on April 9, 149,891 members have availed of the facility.
The central government is also taking care of psycho-social issues in shelter homes where migrant workers are staying and experts and counsellors from Central mental health institutes are visiting them.
The Union government is going to launch an online portal for the migrant workers in the unorganised sector impacted due to a national lockdown imposed to check the spread of Covid-19 in India.

The portal, which has been tentatively named by the labour and employment ministry as the National Portal for Covid-19 Affected Unorganised Migrant Workers, will gather the details of all the unorganised sector workers who are stranded in relief camps, residential or industrial clusters.
Actions by state governments for the Migrant Labourers in India
Maharashtra The Maharashtra government has announced a package of Rs 45 crore for the provision of accommodation and food for the migrant workers. It has also granted permission to the inter-state movement of migrant workers stranded in the state.

Delhi government has appealed to the workers to not leave the state and stay put. For their benefit, it has converted several schools to shelter homes. It has also ensured that the workers at the shelter homes are provided with food and basic necessities.

Delhi CM has joined hands with Google Maps to help the people in need of food or shelter. The app is adding food shelters and night shelters to provide relief during the lockdown. It has enabled direct search feature for the shelters. The feature is initially available in English. However, Google is working on enabling the experience in Hindi as well.
The government has issued 11 Hunger Helpline numbers, one for each district in the national capital. The helpline numbers have been issued to ensure that people are not deprived of food.

Meanwhile, Scores of migrants are huddled together behind the iron gates of a Prayagraj college, jostling for bananas, biscuits and water bottles in a viral video. In the absence of a proper system of distribution, the workers are seen violating the social distancing rules enforced to check the spread of coronavirus. The city administration has been severely criticised on social media for not making proper arrangements for the migrants.
The video was recorded at Prayagraj’s CAV college – a ‘collection centre’ – where the migrants coming from Madhya Pradesh had halted for rest before being sent to their native districts in UP.

The local administration had arranged for refreshments for the travellers. However, instead of distributing systematically, the video shows, local officials handed out food items from behind the iron gates. The migrant, tired from their arduous journey, scrambled for food.
A Prayagraj official later issued a clarification on Twitter. “It is not a quarantine centre. It’s CAV college where migrants from Madhya Pradesh are resting during their transit. Bananas were distributed among them when this chaos started, so distribution was stopped immediately. Later it was distributed in the buses when they all sat on their seats,” he said. A migrant complained of mismanagement at the centre.
“I have come from Bhopal and I have to go to Rae Bareli. Food is not being arranged properly. We are not allowed to go outside and we got nothing overnight (to eat). Now we have received biscuits, and bananas are being distributed. But drinking water is a problem,” he told reporters.
Last week, two mobile videos surfaced that showed people at a coronavirus quarantine centre in Agra scrambling for essentials like tea, biscuits and water from behind the locked gates of the facility.

In one of the two videos, 25 seconds long, a man in protective gear is seen throwing biscuit packets close to the gate and people from the other side stretch their hands to try and reach them.
After the centre’s permission, most of the state governments in the country are bringing home their migrants workers, who have been stranded in other parts of the country because of the lockdown.

The centre on Friday said it will run special trains to take migrant labourers, students, pilgrims or tourists back home amid the COVID-19 crisis.
(With Agency Inputs ).

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