NEW DELHI: The crisis of hunger among migrant workers is only likely to grow steeper with 50 per cent of workers interviewed having rations left for less than a day, according to a study. The ‘21 Days and Counting: COVID-19 Lockdown, Migrant Workers, and the Inadequacy of Welfare Measures in India’ report pointed out 72 per cent of the workers said that their ration would finish in two days.In Maharashtra, 71 per cent told the Stranded Workers Action Network (SWAN) that they had rations only for a day while 89 per cent had stocks for two days.
On Tuesday, hundreds of migrant workers protested in Mumbai demanding that authorities make arrangements for them to return to their hometowns.During the survey of 11,159 workers, the SWAN found 96 per cent of the surveyed workers had not received ration from the government and 70 per cent had not got any cooked food.
In Uttar Pradesh, of over 1,600 workers the network spoke to, nobody had received government rations. Eighty per cent of people did not get cooked food in Karnataka, the study said. Many workers said they were eating frugally, often one meal a day, to save their stock of food grains.
The percentage of people having rations for less than a day jumped up from 36 per cent at the end of the second week of the lockdown to about 50 per cent in one week, according to the study. Similarly, the percentage of people saying they had no rations or cash went up from 36 per cent to 44 per cent in the same period.
Despite the Centre urging employers to pay workers full wages, 89 per cent of the surveyed were not paid by their employers during the lockdown, and 9 per cent were partially paid.
The lockdown has exposed the lack of accountability of employers and the governments when it comes to the rights of migrant workers, the study said, adding that the only link between the majority of stranded workers and their employers was the contractors who had switched off their phones leaving the workers to fend for themselves in these hard times.