‘76% guest workers did not get govt. aid’

TISS survey was done on 10,672 workers in eight police station limits

Why did migrant workers decide to return to their native places during lockdown, when the State government announced and distributed dry ration, cash and instructed employers not to cut their wages?

This is a question lingering in the minds of many who saw the ‘disturbing’ visuals of lakhs of migrant workers marching towards their home-states with children in tow, braving hunger, heat and blistered feet.

Answers to many such questions have been found in a survey conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Hyderabad campus, in collaboration with the Rachakonda Police Commissionerate.

The survey was done on a sample size of 10,672 migrant workers in eight police station limits. TISS undertook a mapping exercise of socio-economic vulnerabilities and made a rapid assessment of the needs of migrants in April. As many as 89.5% of migrant workers did not receive wages during the lockdown period and 76% did not receive the 12 kg rice and ₹500 announced and distributed by the Telangana government from April 1. As 97% of migrant workers did not have ration cards in Hyderabad, they could not get rations from the PDS.

About 68% of migrant workers sent monthly remittances home and 67% reported living in rented space. In the absence of daily and monthly wages, it was a huge burden. Food and direct cash were the most frequently reported needs of migrants, followed by arrangements for travel home.

The purpose of the survey was to capture the migrant workers’ socio-demographic profile, economic and current health status, perceived most important needs and immediate assistance needed from the government. A brief 35-item schedule was developed by TISS faculty team that could be accessed on a smart phone by the data collector.

While the survey was going on, the Rachakonda Commissionerate took the responsibility of ensuring distribution of dry ration kits and organising medical camps in survey areas, said deputy director of TISS U. Vindhya.


Professor Vindhya said that based on the survey findings, TISS along with NGOS Dhaatri Trust and Swadhikaar made some recommendations to the government and sent them to the Chief Secretary through a letter dated May 14 and appealed for immediate action.

These include increasing the number of Shramik special trains to various states, implementation of Building and Other Construction Workers’ (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act of 1996, release and utilisation of Building and Construction Workers’ Fund for immediate relief, transport, compensatory wages, safety and medical needs of stranded migrant workers and those returning home.

The report also suggested that the government implement the inter-state Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1979, instructions to the district authorities to coordinate with MROs, and local police to transport migrants to nearby towns/cities and provide transport to railway stations after health check-up.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 1:51:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/76-guest-workers-did-not-get-govt-aid/article31654090.ece

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