coronavirus migrants 2

The government of Odisha says that about 5 lakhs of migrant workers have returned to Odisha (The Samaj 6th June). Near about 57.2 lakh of migrant workers have reached Uttar Pradesh and Bihar by train and 14 lakh of migrant workers to Madhya Pradesh (Source: Judgment declared on 9th June by the Supreme Court). What is the future of those workers who have returned to their native states? Will their employers not exploit them again?


  1. When Bishambar Suna left as construction worker with 23 villagers of his of Paralasingh Panchayat of Kalahandi district in Odisha, daily wage was just Rupees eighty in his locality. That was also they received in average of five days in a month. Continuous drought, lack of work at Village landlord (Gauntia), non-payment of wages of MNREGA etc forced all of them to leave their village. Now with the help of a trade union in Mumbai they returned to Odisha by a Special train. But after quarantine period, all of them are sitting idle in their homes. They are depending on personal help. They have started making loans also. Work under MNREGA for month of June has not yet been started, though it is the third week of the month.


  1. The Economic Times (June 08) says all garment industries situated from Ludhiana of Panjab to Tirupur of Tamilnadu have not yet resumed their work due to lack of workers despite of the lockdown been relaxed. The workers largely from West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Chhatishgarh work in these industries. The news also says, through the associations they have started dialoguing with respective state governments to send back those workers.


  1. Now all state governments have two ways to deal with the situation. Either the state government can formulate long term plan for addressing the migrant workers’ problems mainly of providing work as per their skill. Otherwise, they can participate in the ‘dialogue’ process with mainly of secondary sector business and make delay of starting MNREGA work. The Supreme Court in its recent judgment has directed all states and central government to prepare datasheet of ‘their skill & employment’ and ensure that they avail the benefit of different schemes. Will this be respected with letter and spirit?


  1. Balarama and 14 boys of Malakangiri and Nabarangpur district of Odisha were working for 20 to 22 hours in a Transport Company at Madurai of Tamilnadu. During lockdown we got to know from ‘Malkangiri Adivasi Sangha’ that all of them are starving. With the help of Madurai based local organisaitons, police and labor department they were provided food packets for two months. Now all of them have come back to the district. Balaram and his friends got to know first time that there are social organisations in this country that are working for their issues.


  1. ODMMI was formed with the help of many rights-based activists, concerned individual and organisations to help the migrant workers stranded in various parts of the country. GASS was also part of the process. All of us have tried to reach to many migrant workers of near about 22 districts who have sought assistance like Balarama and Bishambar. All of them have echoed in similar tone, “we would not go from our native state again.” But how long? Can the government save them from the crisis? Can the government be not influenced by their employers? Or they have to wait for another epidemic?


The ineffectiveness of trade union and workers’ unity, unsupportive role of human rights movement and lack of united voice of migrant workers have impeded the crisis. The ‘GASS’ appeals all mass organisations to come unitedly to resolve this crisis.

Prepared by: Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakha Sangathan, Odisha

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