New Delhi [India], June 28 (ANI): With lakhs of migrant workers returning to their native states through 'Shramik' trains amid COVID-19 lockdown, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said that the Central government has addressed the issue of labourers "very well".
The Home Minister, while responding to the criticism faced by the Centre over no proper arrangements for labourers, said that the government has addressed the issue relating to migrant workers "very well". However, the efforts taken up by the Centre were not "projected properly", he added.
"I think that the government's efforts were not projected properly. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and I talked to all the state Chief Ministers on day one of the lockdown for the arrangement of stay and meals for the labourers as industries will be closed. Every state had arranged accommodation and food for workers. Around 2.5 crore people were served," Shah said.
Highlighting the collaboration between Centre and state governments to address the needs of labourers since the start of lockdown, Shah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had directed to transfer Rs 11,000 crore to all the states through the account of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). Moreover, the arrangement of hospitals and quarantine centres were made for them and after that Prime Minister decided to run Shramik trains for them.
Around 4,594 trains have been run so far and nearly 63 lakh labourers travelled to their home states and 42 lakh labourers were moved to their respective states, which were neighbouring to other states with a short distance, the Union Home Minister said.
"States, where migrants were moving in large numbers such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand, prepared quarantine centre where labourers were dropped by state-run buses from the railway stations and were kept under quarantine for 14 days. After leaving the quarantine centre, they were provided financial assistance from the state government. State governments gave them from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 each," he added.
The Home Minister further expressed pain over migrant workers meeting with accidents in states like Uttar Pradesh's Auraiya and Maharashtra's Aurangabad during their efforts to return home.
"It is right, some incidents have happened which were painful and we all feel bad for them but for that also we talked to all the states' Chief Minister and asked them to run state transport corporation buses to drop the migrant labourers at the Railway Station so they can catch the trains. I think in all about 1.20 crore people were transported from one corner of the country to the other," Shah said.
On being asked if schemes like Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, Garib Rojgar Yojna under Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act are enough for the returnees, or what steps are being taken now for workers welfare, Shah said the Prime Minister has recently launched an employment scheme in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar for labourers.
"The Prime Minister has recently launched a scheme. The programmes were held in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar so efforts are on to provide employment to the people. Days and payment of MNREGA have been increased," he said, adding that this is a "temporary situation".
The Home Minister said that when the situation will become normal all the labourers who want to go to work where they used to be employed, arrangements have been made for that as well.
"Trains have been started and many people are returning to the places of employment. Government has started a drive to provide them with employment where they are until corona pandemic exists. I think that we have addressed it very well," he concluded. (ANI)