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Prof. KR Shyam Sundar on MHA's Order on movement of stranded migrant workers

29th April, 2020

MHA's order on movement of stranded migrant workers within the States and Union Territories as a response to the tremendous pressure exerted by the industry and other bodies who have been lamenting of labour shortages and suffers from several infirmities. The circular is unclear and may cause confusion.  The order stated skill mapping of migrant workers in the relief camps for the suitable deployment of their skills and Transporting the groups of migrant workers who wish to return to their places of work would be moved back after limited testing and those who are asymptomatic will be transported duly.

It looks like a half-thought through order from the centre. It is based on the unfounded assumption that intra-state movement is less risky than inter-state movement. Allocation of workers to "suitable places" is a big task apart from skill mapping and getting skill demands.  All in all, this measure is a knee jerk reaction by the ministry and creates additional headaches for all stakeholders and this is not needed especially when the government needs all their energies to monitor the implications of substantial covid-liberalization in the rural areas and limited liberalization in the urban areas. The order implies additional expenditure and use of resources by states.

The circular does not speak of what should be done at the place of deployment, like providing Food, Shelter, Wage advances during their employment, which is more important.

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