To Amit Shah, Ministry of Home Affairs. Santosh Kumar Gangwar, The Minister of State for Labour and Employment.
Update: The Ministry of Home Affairs has allowed travel of migrant workers back to their home states. But every worker is expected to bear the cost on their own.
With many unpaid workers unable to afford food for themselves and their families, how are they expected to bear the cost of their travel? A move like this rings hollow in compassion for these tired citizens.
Our cities owe a huge part of their infrastructure, goods, service production and delivery to Migrant labour. From laying out the bricks in buildings to the sanitation/upkeep of public and private spaces, migrant workers are essential in ensuring the sanctity of our city space.
But with the onset of COVID-19 these marginalised people, often working under exploitative labour terms with very little social protection, have had their problems grow worse. From being denied wages by their employers1 to police brutality ensuring a violent stop to their natural desire to go home, migrant labourers are suffering immensely.2
While the Government is trying to mitigate their suffering by asking states to begin mapping of migrant workers for relief measures (April 10th), nothing further has been heard of the progress therein. However, everyday we are bombarded with news articles on the sorry state of these citizens. Some even resorting to suicide as their only way out of the situation they are forced in.
We must stand alongside fellow citizens at this time of need, as we know that battling COVID19 may be a long drawn out process. The Ministry of Home affairs must ensure transparency as we try to reach out to these stranded citizens. Here’s the need of the hour:
Center to set aside PM Cares funds for states to more easily bear the cost (50-50 division) of migrant workers going back home.
Ask state governments to immediately begin sharing the status of all their migrant worker initiatives on their national website. We need transparency.
Center to contribute money to states for allotted rations for every migrant worker alongside monetary remuneration to ensure not only their survival but also of their families. (Uttar Pradesh has given rs1000 to a section of migrant workers as a maintenance allowance) 3
Monthly mobile recharges until this shift so they can maintain connectivity as well as have access to Government apps with beneficial schemes.
If these basic conditions are met, we will see a definite and tangible improvement. Not only will it help them feel more socially and psychologically sound, we the people can rest assured that correct measures are being taken care of for our fellow brethren.
Together, let us touch thousands of lives and give them a little hope of better times to come.