Maharashtra readying plan to tackle reverse migration

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on June 10, 2020 Published on June 10, 2020

Migrant labourers in Mumbai queue up to deposit their application forms for travelling to their respective hometowns. (File photo)   -  Paul Noronha

Afraid of contracting the virus, workers are reluctant to return to cities. This puts a question mark on their livelihoods

There are about two lakh people from other parts of Maharashtra, especially Pune and Mumbai, who have shifted back to their native places in Kolhapur district in the last two months after the Covid-19 outbreak. This is an official figure, but the district administration fears the number is much more.

But this is not just a case with Kolhapur district. Rural parts across the State have witnessed massive reverse migration during the lockdown, and the local district administrations are busy assessing the situation.

“We are readying the plan to tackle the emerging situation. It is likely that many people who have come back to their villages and towns would not return to cities, and might want to settle in their native places at least till the fear of Covid-19 prevails. This is going to create many issues right from education of kids to employment,” Satej Patil, Minister of State for Home, told BusinessLine.

Activist Sunil Kamble from Osmanabad said that even if the State government continues to relax the lockdown, people who have returned to villages might not take their families to cities. “There is a fear factor among people that cities are centres of Covid-19. People are back to their fields and this has added burden on families. The money that came from cities has stopped, and this is adding to the distress,” he said.

Work woes

Reetika Khera, an associate professor (economics) at IIT-Delhi, said that major worksites under MGNREGA should be opened at all Gram Panchayats, and people must get work without needing to apply. Such worksites should remain open for the coming months.

“The announcement regarding keeping works open during the monsoon is very important. The monsoon is the hungry season when people’s food stocks run out” she told BusinessLine. Khera added that government measures must be combined with the simplification of MGNREGA to ensure that people get work easily and paid on time. She added that anyone who wants work must be allowed under the scheme and the requirement of demanding work formally must be relaxed.

Taufiq Jamadar, who works as a cook in a Pune restaurant, has returned to Kolhapur. He is the only son in the family, and his mother Baby says that she will not allow her son to return to work, even if he earns less money in Kolhapur. Baby says that the situation in cities would deteriorate, and she cannot risk her son’s life.

Already, industries and other sectors in urban Maharashtra are facing a paucity of workers, with thousands of migrant labourers leaving to their home States. Now, the local workforce is reluctant to work in cities. This might add to the woes of industries.

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Published on June 10, 2020
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