This refers to the Q&A “Movement of migrants must not be encouraged” (May 4). After five weeks of the nationwide lockdown, the Centre announced another extension for two weeks till May 17. The government, a day earlier, announced six special trains, allowing travel of migrant workers to their home states. Further, it divided the nation into Red, Orange, and Green zones and eased restrictions on economic activities with certain guidelines. States have been asked to relax the rules depending on local conditions.
Following the Centre’s announcement, state governments have started sending/receiving the stranded migrant workers after screening or isolating them. The Chief Ministers of Karnataka and Telangana, however, sensing shortage of workers when economic activities restart, promptly asked them to stay back. It’s a fact that migrant workers play an important role in the economy, particularly in the MSMEs, real estate and unorganised sectors. The central/state governments and other stakeholders know this well but hardly do anything to address their grievances. The states where they migrate to earn their livelihood treat them as uninvited guests. Now, post easing of the lockdown, every stakeholder needs them desperately. The workers, stranded without proper roof and food, however, will prefer to go back to their homes. But, many of them, out of dire need, may return.
Age-old labour laws are likely to be reviewed. It’s high time the Union government, in consultation with the states, enact laws offering social security to the migrant workers.
N Ramamurthy Chennai
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