SC Praises Uttar Pradesh Government's Handling Of Pandemic-Hit Migrant Workers
On Tuesday (29 June), Supreme Court of India (SC) praised the "robust system of registration of the migrant workers" developed by the state of Uttar Pradesh amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns that cost them their jobs.
As part of the hearing on two petitions on the migrant crisis, Uttar Pradesh government had submitted an affidavit dated 22 May 2021 detailing the steps taken to help the migrant workers.
As per the data submitted by the Director, Training and Employment, Uttar Pradesh, close to 38 lakh migrant workers came back to the state during the COVID-19 pandemic. About half of these are unskilled workers, and the largest numbers of skilled workers are construction workers. Around 25 lakh have been registered on the portal as of
The government also launched Jansunwai Stranded Migrant Workers Registration Facility in May last year for migrant workers who wanted to return to the state as well as those within in the state and wanted to return to their native places.
The government promptly created an online portal of the Relief Commissioner — rahat.up.nic.in — in which all the details of such workers are uploaded in real time.
According to the affidavit submitted by the government, close to 10.5 lakh labourers have already been given alternative employment under various government schemes after their skill-mapping was completed.
As per the data, between first April and 8 June this year (around two months), the details of 3,79,220 migrant workers were registered and their skills mapped on the portal.
Yogi Adityanath-led government in June last year set up a Uttar Pradesh Labour (Employment Exchange and Job) Commission to ensure social and economic security for the migrant workers hit hard by the pandemic and the lockdown.
The task of the commission headed by the chief minister himself was to provide maximum employment to the workers at the local level in private and non-government sector as per their skill and employment opportunities.
The Commission holds monthly meetings; the executive council meets every 15 days; and the district level committees have weekly meetings. The district administration is supposed to report on the progress at the executive council meetings.
The Commission worked effectively, and by the end of June 2020, Uttar Pradesh government's massive exercise to profile the skills of over 30 lakh migrant workers was in full swing. By 25 May 2020, skill mapping of 14.75 lakh migrant workers had been completed.
The state government also wants the Commission to liaise with other state governments to help provide basic minimum facilities of housing, social security, insurance to workers who get employed.
State government decided to share the data with the industry so that interested potential employers could contact them. The government also entered into MoUs with associations for the employment of workers.
For example, the tailors association was provided with the list of the workers with the requisite skills, and they started calling the workers directly. Similarly, Noida Apparel Export Cluster, looking for tailors, was given the data.
UP also signed MoUs with the Industries Association, FICCI, Udyog Bharti, and the National Real Estate Development Council to find employment for 11 lakh workers, and for skills training.
Government agencies like the Uttar Pradesh Expressway Industrial Development Authority, Public Works Department, etc., hired labourers using the portal at their construction sites.
The three under-construction expressways in the state — the Purvanchal Expressway; the Bundelkhand Expressway; and the Gorakhpur Link Expressway — themselves hired about 12,000 workers as of June 2020.
The women migrant workers, majority of whom had been working as ayas or domestic help, were reportedly not willing to take up MGNREGA employment. The state government made plans to engage them through Self Help Groups in the manufacturing of masks and PPE kits, and under Banking Correspondent Sakhi Yojana, Rural Livelihood Mission.
UP is also making use of the funds available under centre's Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan, covering state's 31 districts. It aims to give 125 days of employment to 670,000 migrant workers.
Uttar Pradesh government is also making use of the direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme to give benefits to the vulnerable population. On 9 June, the government transferred Rs 1,000 in the bank account of 23.05 daily wagers. The beneficiaries included dhobis, rickshaw pullers, construction workers, cobblers and halwais.
On 12 June, Yogi Adityanath made an online transfer of Rs 104.82 crore to 10.48 lakh more families of labourers.
The state's labour department is formulating a scheme for the marriage of labourers’ daughters, and schemes had been launched to educate children of labourers.
"Also, they have got a Rs 2 lakh health insurance cover and ration cards," CM Yogi said. The migrant workers are to be given an annual insurance of Rs 5 lakh during registration.
"UP was the first state to provide free ration to those who didn't have it. Our handling of the migrant crisis is now the subject of international research," the CM added.
He also said that the state government was providing free of cost treatment to COVID-19 patients and Atal residential schools were being set up in every division to provide education to the children of labourers.
In May, CM Yogi Adityanath had directed officials to start community kitchens to provide food for the poor. He asked the officials to ensure there is no scarcity of food for labourers, daily wage workers, street vendors, handcart pullers and others and that they are provided with proper meals during the lockdown.
In April, CM Yogi had asked officials to safely transport stranded migrant workers to their homes after they were forced to return from Delhi, Maharashtra etc. following the lockdown imposed in these states. He also announced free rations for two months in May and June to Antyodya cardholders through the Public Distribution System (PDS).
The government is also preparing a detailed plan to offer financial assistance to the industrial units which will provide employment to the migrant workers. The financial assistance program will be similar to the one being offered to the Handloom industry.
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