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What's Inside

Please click here to access the report entitled Voices of the Invisible Citizens: A Rapid Assessment of the Impact of COVID-19 Lockdown on Internal Migrant Workers -- Recommendations for the State, Industry & Philanthropies (released in April 2020).

The report prepared by the NGO Jan Sahas -- working with more than 1.20 lakh migrant  workers -- is the result of telephonic interviews with 3,196 migrant construction workers from North and Central India (namely Madhaya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and other states). The data arrived at from the telephonic survey paints a gloomy picture reflecting negligence and apathy.

The key findings of the report are as follows:

• Almost 55 percent of the workers surveyed earned between Rs. 200-Rs. 400 per day to support an average family size of four persons.

• Nearly 42 percent of the workers mentioned that they had no ration left even for a day, let alone for the duration of 21-days lockdown.

• The telephonic survey demonstrates that 14 percent labourers did not have ration cards. So, the report writers have recommended immediate measures to be undertaken by the Centre and states to provide them ration to prevent hunger deaths.

• Roughly 33 percent of the respondents interviewed said that they were still stuck in destination cities due to the lockdown with little or no access to food, water and money.

• A staggering 94 percent of the workers (viz. over 51 million labourers) did not have the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) identity cards, which ruled out the possibility of availing any of the benefits that the states have declared from their Rs. 32,000 crore BOCW corpus.

• The present report highlights the structural flaws in the beneficiary identification systems that are probably going to get in the way of the subsidy and relief reaching migrant workers.

• Telephonic interviews reveal that 17 percent of labourers did not have bank accounts. So, the report writers have recommended that the government should immediately explore multiple options of ensuring economic benefits reach migrants on time -- probably through flexibility in options of availing economic relief either through Jan Dhan accounts, Aadhaar identification and cash payment at doorstep using Gram Panchayat and postal offices.

• Around 31 percent of workers in the telephonic survey mentioned that they had taken loans and they would find it difficult to repay that without being in jobs.

• The survey demonstrates that almost 90 percent of labourers had already lost their source of income in the last 1-3 weeks (just prior to the time when the present study was conducted i.e. 27th-29th March, 2020).

• Roughly 62 percent workers did not have any information about the emergency welfare measures announced by the government for them and nearly 37 percent workers did not know how to access the existing schemes.  

• The construction sector contributes to around 9 percent of the country's GDP and employs the highest number of migrant workers across India with 55 million daily-wage workers. Every year around nine million workers move from rural areas to urban cities in search of work within construction sites and factories.

Rural Expert

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