Coronavirus lockdown | Efforts of administration to tackle hunger have been inadequate: report

The administration’s handling of transporting migrants has been chaotic, says report. File

The administration’s handling of transporting migrants has been chaotic, says report. File   | Photo Credit: Ashok Kumar

Report is based on surveys, on-ground talks with workers

Dwindling cash reserves, rising debt and food distress remain the plight of workers as Haryana transitions out of the lockdown, stated a report by civil society group Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch.

Based on telephonic IVR-based surveys and on-ground conversations with workers, the report stated that the administration’s efforts to tackle hunger have been “inadequate”, and added that delay in distress-ration distribution during the peak period of food distress in Gurugram had made matters worse. The 12-page report also noted that withdrawal of cooked meal facilities had compounded the distress of around 37% workers who were dependent on them.

Stressing on how workers were left with little cash due to the lockdown, the report said that 87% of daily wage workers and 75% of those with regular monthly incomes had less than ₹500 with them.

Work in stasis

Though all industries have been allowed to work at full strength in Gurugram and the markets are also open, the report found that 60% of daily wage labourers and 42% of those who worked in factories had not started working.

It said the demand for workers in factories was low owing to social distancing norms and disrupted supply chains.

Also, 44% of self-employed workers had not yet been able to restart work owing to negligible demand, and lack of capital to restart business, the report said.

Debt on the rise

Debt has also been on the rise, especially among the self-employed. Around 44% borrowed between ₹5,000-₹8,000. A third of daily wage workers and permanent workers borrowed up to ₹2,000 and one-fifth borrowed between ₹2,000 and ₹5,000. “Also, 30% took loans of up to ₹2,000, 24% between ₹2,000 and ₹5,000; and 8% above ₹8,000,” said the report, titled ‘Caught In a Bind: A Status Report on Uncertainty and Distress Among Gurugram’s Unorganised Workers’.

The report found that rental demands were not persistent, but were a source of anxiety. Only 25% of the respondents faced pressure from landlords to pay rents, but in the absence of moratoriums or waivers, cumulative rentals owed to landlords are a source of anxiety for migrants.

A higher proportion of migrants from Assam, Bihar and West Bengal wish to return immediately, according to the report, but a large proportion from Uttar Pradesh, around 64%, are willing to wait for employment. Of the total respondents, 30% of migrants are eager to return immediately, 40% planning to wait and only 30% have no intention of leaving the city.

The administration’s handling of migrants transportation via shramik trains and buses had been chaotic with last-minute announcements resulting in mismatches between reporting travellers and available seats.

The manch demanded that the administration expedite distress rations to all non-ration card holders and make applicant and verification lists public.

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Printable version | Jul 4, 2020 11:49:15 AM |

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