NEW DELHI: After the Uttar Pradesh government arranged for 1,000 buses to bring back migrant workers, experts said other states should also make such a move to ferry those stranded in the lockdown.
The step was taken after several reports emerged that hundreds of migrant workers walked to reach their homes as all forms of public transport remain off the road.
According to the Economic Survey of 2018-19, over 90 per cent of the total workforce in India is ‘informal’. “This is a welcome step. States can ensure some level of preparedness when the buses reach their destinations in terms of screening and a strong enforcement that when they reach the villages, they have to be at home,” said Chinmay Tumbe, author of ‘India Moving —A History of Migration’. “They (other states) should be doing it… It may be tougher, say from Mumbai to Bihar and so on.”
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Sampark project director V Prameela pointed out that the states should ensure all precautionary measures while ferrying migrants in vehicles. While it is important that states bring back their migrants, it is also important for destination states to take responsibilities to ferry workers to their home states, said Rajiv Khadelwal, founder, Aajeevika Bureau. “No migrant worker should be discriminated against or forgotten in this crisis. Governments should extend the same courtesy to them too.”
The pandemic has exposed the acute housing shortage for migrant workers in urban areas, and the poor living conditions they are subjected to, said Sudhir Katiyar, secretary, Centre for Labour Research and Action.
“Migrant workers need cheap public rental housing where they go to work. We must create proper living institutions for them. They stay in factories, road corners and construction sites. Once these sites closed down, they had no option but to leave.”