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'Harassed for rent in lockdown, yet migrant workers willing to return to cities'

Sixteen per cent of the respondents were harassed by home-owners for rent during the lockdown despite clear directives from the government directives not to do so. 

Published: 18th December 2020 09:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th December 2020 09:01 AM   |  A+A-

Migrants exodus, Migrants lockdown

Over 60 per cent people highlighted the need for affordable housing to avoid a similar crisis in future. (Photo | Express)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Migrant workers in Delhi faced harassment for rent during the lockdown but many are still willing to return to cities in absence of livelihood opportunities at villages, according to advocacy group Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN).

Sixteen per cent of the respondents were harassed by home-owners for rent during the lockdown despite clear directives from the government directives not to do so. 

Over 12 per cent said direct loss of housing, including through eviction by home-owners was one of the main reasons why they left Delhi during the lockdown, said the report ‘In  Search  of  Home:  A Study  on Migrant Workers’ Access to Housing and Land’.

As part of the survey, HLRN interviewed 248 migrant workers aged between 15 and 78 years, including those who left Delhi, and a small number of them who stayed back. Lack of access to adequate housing and land also contributed to mass exodus from cities, it said. 

The respondents were from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra.

Despite  the  crisis  faced  in  cities, 83 per cent of the workers were willing to return for work in  the  absence  of  livelihood  opportunities  and  access  to  land  in  their villages. 

Most  migrant  workers  lived  for  a  considerable  period  of  their  lives  without  access  to adequate  housing with 44  per  cent of  them  living  in  Delhi  for  at  least 10  years or  more, with or without their families. 

A large number of migrant workers do not have access to adequate housing in their villages as well, it said.

While over 85 per cent of the workers were living in rented rooms in Delhi, including in ‘informal settlements’, over 4 per cent of the participants lived at their place of work, the survey said. 

“Most of these living arrangements were not adequate and did not provide any tenure security to the residents. If they had some form of security of tenure, their right to housing, including during the lockdown, would have been protected.” 

Eight-eight per cent of the respondents said they wanted the government to guarantee employment and also provide more livelihood opportunities in  both  urban  and  rural  areas, according to the study. 

Over 60 per cent people highlighted the need for affordable housing to avoid a similar crisis in future. 

The HLRN suggested developing a comprehensive right to housing policy for providing affordable and adequate housing for all, with a focus on the most marginalised and excluded. 

It added there was a need to conduct extensive surveys and collect data on the number of migrant workers. 



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