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As state govts take efforts to address migrant labour issue, centre decides to check the feasibility of labourer mobility across states

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba also asked the states to collate numbers of the total numbers of migrant labours that are stuck because of the nationwide restrictions on movement and suggest ways to facilitate their return and quarantine afterwards.

On Saturday, the central government discussed the feasibility of allowing migrant labourers to move back to their home states amidst the lockdown. The government has also sought details of Indian citizens who have been stuck abroad because of the lockdown, as it is now preparing a roadmap for the post-lockdown period.

Reportedly, Union cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba met chief secretaries of the states on Saturday to talk about the thousands of workers, currently in migrant labour camps around India who want to return home.

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba also asked the states to collate numbers of the total numbers of migrant labours that are stuck because of the nationwide restrictions on movement and suggest ways to facilitate their return and quarantine afterwards.

States take the lead to address migrant issue

The BJP-ruled states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana have already initiated the process to bring back migrant labourers stranded in other states after the lockdown was imposed in March till April 14 and then extended till May 3.

In a coordinated exercise between various states, migrant labourers are being transported across the states. More than 2,000 migrants have travelled to Uttar Pradesh from Haryana. A similar number of migrants have also headed home from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh. On a smaller scale, Himachal Pradesh organised return of Kashmiri labourers stuck in the state.

“The movement of migrant labourers was organised after mutual consultation between the two state governments. They were first checked and nobody showed any symptoms. This movement will go on for four-five days,” said Haryana DGP Manoj Yadava.

Uttar Pradesh expecting 5-10 lakh migrants could return

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has set up a committee and directed his officials to prepare a plan for creating at least 15 lakh jobs in rural Uttar Pradesh to meet the rush of about 5-10 lakh persons who are being expected to return to the state over the next two months.

Uttar Pradesh Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Kumar Awasthi said they expected 11,000 migrants to return by Sunday. 

A senior official of the UP government said that the government had reached out to other states and as soon as any of them had their logistical issues in order, UP would initiate the process to bring back workers from there as well. 

Reportedly, the state has more than 30 lakh registered unemployed persons and is expecting about 10 lakh more in the coming months. The government said that it would be able to use many of them for the several infrastructure and industrial projects that are ongoing or will be taken up in the coming days.

Madhya Pradesh started preparations to bring back stranded labourers

Madhya Pradesh, which estimates that nearly one lakh of its migrants are stranded in a different state, has begun its preparations to get them back first from neighbouring Gujarat and Rajasthan.

By Saturday night, 98 buses carrying 2,400 workers from Gujarat were expected to reach Alirajpur and Jhabua in MP, while 600-odd workers from Rajasthan were to reach Sawai Madhopur.

MP Additional Chief Secretary ICP Keshri said it will take some days before all workers return, but the work is in progress.

Rajasthan to allow movement of labourers

The Rajasthan government has also notified that migrant workers will now be able to go out of the state. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the labourers in other states can come back in a phased manner.

Ashok Gehlot said the state government wants to send all migrants workers to their homes safely and expected their support. “If anyone violates rules, there will be strict action,” the chief minister said.

The comments came after Gehlot addressed a high-level meeting on this issue from his residence through video conference.

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