Data on migrant deaths being collected from states: Govt to Parliament
On September 14, the first day of the 18-day uninterrupted monsoon session of Parliament, the Union ministry of labour and employment had stated that no data was available on migrant workers’ deathsUpdated: Sep 21, 2020, 15:10 IST
Data on migrant workers, who had lost their lives while trying to reach their respective native places during the 68-day nationwide lockdown restrictions that were enforced from March 25 in a bid to contain the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, are being collected from states and union territories (UTs), the Centre told Parliament on Monday.
On September 14, the first day of the 18-day uninterrupted monsoon session of Parliament, the Union ministry of labour and employment had stated that no data was available on migrant workers’ deaths.
The disclosure was made on Monday by Union minister for labour and employment Santosh Gangwar in a response to a question in the Rajya Sabha by Trinamool Congress’s (TMC) member Derek O’Brien.
O’Brien had sought to know the number of migrant labourers who had travelled inter-state on foot to reach their respective native places during the lockdown and how many had lost their lives.
Gangwar said: “Data are being collected from the states and UTs.”
At least 10 million migrant workers had left cities and returned to their village homes to states such as West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh (UP) during the lockdown.
The Union ministry of labour and employment said that Indian Railways operated 4,611 Shramik Special trains and ferried 6.3 million migrants to destinations such as UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh (MP) and other states.
“The global spread of Covid-19 followed by lockdown has caused economic disruptions across the globe, including India. Covid-19 has also resulted in migration of large numbers of workers from destination states to their home states. As per the data received from the states, over 1.06 crore migrant workers, including those who had travelled on foot during the lockdown, returned to their home states,” Gangwar had said.
“Now, with the process of unlocking, many migrant workers have started returning to their workplaces in destination states from states and UTs,” he added.
The railways ministry on Saturday said that 97 people died while travelling on board the Shramik Special trains that were operated to repatriate domestic migrant workers.
This was the first official confirmation of the fatalities that prompted questions over how the lockdown was planned and about the measures adopted to help vulnerable, urban workers, who were rendered jobless and faced an acute cash crunch amid their bid to return to their respective native places.
The data accounted for deaths until September 9.
On May 30, HT had reported that between May 9 and 27, around 80 deaths took place on board the Shramik Special trains, according to the data accessed from the Railway Protection Force (RPF) authorities.