Omicron Covid variant: No exodus of migrant workers, says Centre

A. M. Jigeesh | Updated on: Jan 13, 2022
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Release from Union Labour Ministry says media reporting was based on old photographs

A high level meeting chaired by Union Labour Secretary Sunil Barthwal reviewed the pandemic situation in various States and said there is no exodus of workers, especially migrant workers, back to their home states.

Additional Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, Secretaries of State Labour Departments and Labour Commissioners of all States/UTs and officers of the Ministry of Railway and Department of Food and Public Distribution participated in the meeting.

Limited restrictions

State governments told the meeting that barring night curfews and weekend curfews, there were no restrictions on construction activities, business activities, running of shops and industrial activities in the country.

“So far, there is no report of unusual movement of migrant workers owing to the limited restrictions imposed by governments. Some media reports of mass exodus regarding movement of migrant workers to their home States were found to be untrue and it was also noticed that such reporting was based on old photographs,” a release from the Union Labour Ministry after the meeting said.

Close watch

The Ministry added that the business situation is normal throughout the country except 50 per cent restrictions on workforce at some places.

"Central as well as the State governments are keeping a close watch on the situation and are fully prepared to tackle the situation as per demand of the situation. Some State governments have already made plans for distribution of dry rations to needy labourers if required. Some have made preparations to provide financial assistance from the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) cess fund and Social Security fund. Railways is also keeping a very close watch on the situation, particularly at the major railway stations like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Secundrabad, and is ready to provide special trains in case the situation demands," the release added.

"The State Governments are keeping a close watch to look after the interests of the migrant workers and are fully ready to provide all assistance to prevent any hardships. Both the labour supplying States and the labour receiving States were advised by the Secretary to work in close coordination to tackle any migrant workers’ situation if need arises," it said.

Monitoring centres

Meanwhile, the Centre has activated 21 monitoring centres and States have opened toll free numbers to help migrant workers.

"States/UTs were requested to maintain records of returnee migrant workers, if any. They have also been asked to be wary of rumour mongering about an exodus and take quick steps to counter such rumours. They were advised to reassure migrant workers regarding their safety, security and livelihood," the release added.

Published on January 13, 2022

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