Odisha announces package to arrest distress migration to other states
The government also launched 24×7 helpline to ensure safety and welfare of Odia migrant workers in other states.Updated: Jan 16, 2020 09:24 IST
To arrest distress migration to other states, the Odisha government on Wednesday announced a special livelihood package for four districts preferred by migrant labourers. As part of the package, the labourers would get increased wages under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and loan from local self help groups at no interest rate.
Announcing the package, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said migrant labourers in Bargarh, Bolangir, Nuapada and Kalahandi districts will now get a daily wage of Rs 286.30 under NREGA instead of the earlier Rs 188 per day. They will also get an assured work 200 days in place of madatory 100 workdays.
Odisha is one of the key source states for migrant labourers who move to Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Telangana and is among the top four states in the country from where lakhs of migrant workers routinely travel to other states for working in brick kilns. As per an informal assessment done by NGO Aide At Action, nearly three lakh people from western Odisha migrate to southern states due to drought and poverty. Though Odisha outpaces states like Haryana, Punjab, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand in GDP growth, much of it has been jobless growth.
Patnaik said the government has identified 20 vulnerable blocks of these districts where NREGA workers will get Rs 286 as daily wage instead of Rs 188 per day earlier. As delayed payment is a bane of NREGA, the state government has started a corpus fund of Rs 500 crore so that the workers would be paid their wages the month they do the work.
Odisha labour and employment minister Sushant Singh said all gram panchayats in these 20 blocks will be covered under Odisha Livelihoods Mission. Each family in these areas will be brought under Self Help Groups (SHG) scheme so that they get financial assistance from Community Investment Fund (CIF) and Vulnerability Reduction Fund (VRF). Any labourer in distress can approach the local block development officer for availing assistance from VRF.
“All migrant labourers will be provided with pucca houses and a drive will be started for all eligible construction workers for their registration under Odisha Building & Other Construction Workers Welfare Board. They will be given marriage assistance, pension, education assistance and pucca houses alongwith other admissible benefits. District level MIS and Central data base at State level will be in place to track migrant workers and ensure linkage with welfare schemes,” said Singh.
The government also launched 24×7 helpline e-Shramik Samadhan to ensure safety and welfare of Odia migrant workers in other states.
The announcement came on the day a migrant labourer in Bolangir district came back home with the body of his daughter who died in train while coming back to Odisha from Andhra Pradesh. Santoshini Sahoo of Mahul village in Bolangir had gone to Andhra Pradesh with his father to work in a brick kiln. However, she fell sick and was coming back home when she died near Vishakhapatnam.
Activists working in the migration-affected districts said though the package sounded impressive, its success depended on the resourcefulness of the local labout officials. “The local work contractor who hire the labourers for work outside the state normally pay them anything between Rs 1-2 lakh three-four months before the migration begins. Once these labourers take money, they start spending and can’t say no to the work contractor. So the government needs to reach out to these people in their time of need,” said Jyoti Prakash of Aide Et Action, an NGO working in migration sector.