Nearly 600,000 workers migrated on foot during lockdown, govt tells SC

The central government told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that 500,000 to 600,000 migrants arrived on foot in their villages during the isolation, while all political measures were in place to meet their needs.

The government has expressed concern over the large movement of migrant workers in recent days from cities to villages, which has the potential to spread the deadly virus to the rural population “which has remained intact until now”.

The communication was made by Interior Minister Ajay Kumar Bhalla to the Supreme Court in response to a situation report requested by the supreme court on measures taken to prevent the exodus of migrant workers.

“Unfortunately, due to certain false and or misleading information or messages on social networks, a panic was created. According to the 2011 census, there are approximately 44 million people who have migrated for employment, according to a very rough estimate, 500,000 to 600,000 people across the country, “said Bhalla. the Supreme Court.

He said that the central government had announced a financial package of 1.7 trillion rupees for “each poor person”, including migrant workers, to cope with the impact of the coronavirus and “that it was not necessary that the migration of workers is rushing towards their village which has started to move from the place of their occupation to the place of their residence. “Their daily needs were taken care of wherever they worked and the daily needs of their family members were taken care of in their respective villages,” said the central government.

Since the imposition of a 21-day national ban starting on March 25, workers in the unorganized sector have started to leave for their villages, resulting in reverse migration, as they have not been able to cope with the economic impact of the closure. All businesses were closed and workers were unable to afford basic necessities related to rent and food, which caused the exodus. Workers began their journey on foot to reach their villages, resulting in some deaths.

The central government had advised state governments to open emergency shelters and provide food and other essential items to these migrant workers, to discourage them from leaving the cities. He informed the Supreme Court that as of Tuesday, 21,064 relief camps have been established by the states, in which approximately 666,291 people have been accommodated and 23 million people have received food.

“It is very important and crucial to stress that this type of migration by migrant workers alone, in large numbers, goes against the very purpose of the preventive measures taken by the central government,” said Bhalla.

The interior minister also said that the government had received reports of resistance from many villages to allow these workers to enter their region, fearing that this would lead to the spread of the coronavirus.

“So far, rural India has remained immune to this infection. If migrant workers are allowed to conclude their journey, rejoin their village of origin and merge with the rural population, there is a serious and imminent potential for infection also entering rural India. In such a case, the epidemic, which has already taken the form of a pandemic, would manifest itself in its still severe form making it unmanageable to contain, “said the secretary.

He added that some state governments, such as Uttar Pradesh, had provided bus services to disperse the crowd of migrant workers at the borders, but ultimately a decision was made to stop all of these movements. The Home Office later ordered states to ensure that landlords do not charge workers monthly rent and that employers do not deduct wages. According to the central government, this is mandatory to be enforced by district magistrates, police superiors and the deputy police commissioner of each district in India.

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