Uttar Pradesh was the first State to announce facilitation via buses and other means to bring back its migrant labour from other States as the lockdown took effect in late March and that is something on which the Punjab, Karnataka, Haryana and Gujarat Chief Ministers have now dialled their U.P. counterpart Yogi Adityanath to prevent flight of labour and grounding of economic activities.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Mr. Adityanath received calls from the four Chief Ministers assuring him that migrant labour from his State needn’t leave and would be taken care of as a graded exit from the lockdown now looms. While the Chief Ministers are worried that economic revival in their States, post lockdown, would be hampered as more and more labour left their borders Mr. Adityanath had, a month prior, put in place some systems to change the status quo vis a vis U.P.
“More than a month ago, Yogiji set up a committee with agriculture produce commissioner Alok Sinha and representation from rural development, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) , labour and panchayati raj departments. As MSME Minister, I was also told that the mandate of the committee was to explore ways to ramp up employment opportunities to those returning. The goal we have been given is around 15 lakh jobs, with five lakh jobs target for my department alone,” said Siddharth Nath Singh, Minister for MSME.
It was three weeks after the setting up of the committee, that Mr. Adityanath declared that he would coordinate with other States to bring back migrant workers back home. Till date, 6.5 lakh migrants have returned. “In those three weeks, we have worked hard in first of all ramping up banking proposals. I held three meetings with banks and we have cleared more than 20,000 loan proposals for tiny businesses [which can employ 4 people excluding the owner] pending since before the pandemic hit. This credit flow will kick in once the lockdown is lifted,” said Mr. Singh. “We want that more and more of our people needn’t travel out for work.”
Mr. Singh also said that while this was for creating jobs via domestic entrepreneurship, the State has also set up three desks, the Japan, South Korea and the U.S. desks to deal with international companies that may want to relocate to Uttar Pradesh. Mr. Adityanath’s economic advisor K.V. Raju (who has earlier worked with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Gujarat) is one of those taking care of these issues.
A new normal is being created with regard to life in the COVD-19 hit world, and one of the most dramatic changes, if pulled off, could be for Uttar Pradesh to provide employment to its people within the State.