Parliament monsoon session: No data available on migrant deaths during lockdown, says Centre

14 Sept 2020

On May 30, HT had reported there were around 80 deaths on board the Shramik Special trains, which were run to ferry stranded migrant workers to their native places, between May 9 and 27

There is no data available on the number of migrant workers who had lost their lives during the 68-day nationwide lockdown restrictions that were enforced from March 25 in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, the Centre informed Parliament on Monday.

The response by Union Ministry of Labour and Employment on a question raised in the Lok Sabha seeking information on whether the government was aware that several migrant workers had lost their lives while trying to return to their native places and if state-wise details of the toll was available.

It also sought to know “whether the government provided any compensation or economic assistance to the victims’ families”.

The ministry stated that since such data was maintained there was no question of giving compensation to the victims’ next of kin.

Another question was asked about the government’s failure in assessment of problems faced by migrant workers during the lockdown, including in Tamil Nadu.

Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Minister of State (MoS) with independent charge in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, said: “India, as a nation, has responded through the Central and state governments, local bodies, self-help groups (SHGs), Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs), medical health professionals, sanitation workers as well as large number of genuine and bona-fide non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the nation’s fight against the unprecedented human crisis due to the outbreak of Covid –19 and country-wide lockdown, including in Tamil Nadu.”

On May 30, HT had reported there were around 80 deaths on board the Shramik Special trains, which were run to ferry stranded migrant workers to their native places, between May 9 and 27, according to data from the Railway Protection Force (RPF).

The deceased were in the age group between four 85.

The data also mentioned the co-morbidities or accidents that caused the deaths in a few cases.

The ministry informed that over 1.04 crore migrants returned to their respective home states. Uttar Pradesh (UP) topped the list with 32.4 lakhs, followed by Bihar (15 lakhs) and Rajasthan (13 lakhs) in the first such centralised database record on migrants.

It added that the Indian Railways operated more than 4,611 Shramik Special trains for ferrying migrant workers and over 63.07 lakhs were shifted to various destinations in UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh (MP) and other states.

The trains were started from May 1 to ferry migrant labourers during the lockdown to their home states. The railway ministry had in august said many migrants have begun going back to the places where they worked. It also indicated the economic activity has begun picking up after the country started easing the lockdown restrictions from September.

“The states and union territories (UTs) have been advised to take adequate steps to streamline the migration of the workers to mitigate the hardships of migrant workers returning to the destination States/UTs,” the ministry told Parliament.

“The states/UTs have been advised to implement the advisory guidelines by quickly gearing up their labour Law enforcement machinery and ensuring statutory compliance by all the stakeholders which could provide migrant workers much needed help to mitigate the financial crisis and empower them to deal with the pandemic. The states/UTs have also been advised to maintain updated data of the migrant workers to facilitate the administration to extend benefits of the welfare schemes of the government to the migrant workers,” it added.


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