RANCHI: The Jharkhand government is on the horns of a dilemma over the coronavirus lockdown as extending it would lead to financial distress and lifting it could trigger an influx of migrants into the state, Chief Minister Hemant Soren said on Saturday.
During an interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Soren said his government is expecting over 5 lakh migrant labourers to return to their villages once the lockdown is lifted, increasing the possibility of the spread of the deadly virus.
But continuing with the lockdown will further dry up the state's revenue, he added.
"Whether the lockdown is lifted or extended, it is a difficult situation for us from both ways," Soren told the prime minister during the video conference held with chief ministers to assess the situation in states due to the pandemic.
"As per our data, a large number of labourers are stranded in states severely affected by the coronavirus outbreak. When they will return, the situation could deteriorate. They may come as carriers of the virus," Soren said.
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He said over 1.5 lakh migrant workers have already returned to Jharkhand and had to be quarantined.
Soren urged Modi to increase the daily wage under rural job scheme MGNREGA to Rs 300.
"I believe the wage under MGNREGA in the state is the lowest in the country. Therefore, a large number of people from Jharkhand migrate to other states and are earning Rs 700or Rs 900 per day. Even after the recent announcement of wage hike under the scheme, it has not crossed Rs 200 in Jharkhand...So I request you to fix the wage under the scheme at Rs 300," Soren said.
The increase in wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act came into effect on April 1.
The chief minister also requested Modi to consider waiver of interest for existing loans for the current fiscal and urged him to consider releasing the GST compensation arrear.
A large number of PSUs like DVC, CCL and SAIL are functioning in Jharkhand and they havedues to the government, he mentioned.