Coronavirus lockdown | No clarity on ration for returning migrant workers

Many labourers coming back to cities.

Updated - July 08, 2020 10:01 pm IST

Published - July 08, 2020 05:15 pm IST - New Delhi:

Image for representation purpose only.

Image for representation purpose only.

The trains are full of migrants returning to their workplaces in cities, but the Centre is still considering how to ensure that those without ration cards do not go hungry.

On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet approved the five-month extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana to give free grain and chana to 81 crore ration card holders. Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar seemed to indicate that migrant workers would also benefit.

Also read | After turning their backs during lockdown, cities now want migrant workers back

“Even migrant labourers were also included at a later stage, and they have also got free ration. Now those who have returned will also continue to get,” he said. “Because where they are now, they are already getting free ration. If they return and come, they will also get free ration.”

However, when asked how this would be done, given that the Aatmanirbhar scheme to give ration for migrants without ration cards was only in effect for May and June, Mr. Javadekar had no clear response, making references to shelter homes and the ration card portability scheme. However, the Aatmanirbhar ration scheme meant for migrants in shelter homes has been ended, while the portability scheme is not in effect across the country.

Asked for a clarification, a Food Ministry spokesperson confirmed that free ration to migrant workers without ration cards was only being given under the Atmanirbhar scheme which has ended. “Migrant workers’ problems continue to be under the consideration of the government,” said the Ministry.

When asked about the number of returning migrants, Mr. Javadekar only said, “All the returning trains are full. People have their own arrangement with the owner, contractor or employment provider, and companies, and they are returning.”

Data | 96% migrant workers did not get rations from the government, 90% did not receive wages during lockdown: survey

LPG scheme

The Cabinet also approved a three-month extension of its scheme to give free LPG cylinder refills to Ujjwala beneficiaries, as a number of them are yet to avail benefits. They can now take delivery of the refill until the end of September.

In another decision, the Cabinet approved the ₹1 lakh crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund promised by the Finance Minister in May. This will create a medium to long term debt financing facility for post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets through 3% interest subvention and financial support.

Full coverage | Lockdown displaces lakhs of migrants

Loans will be disbursed to agricultural co-operatives and farmer producer organisations, as well as agri start-ups and public-private partnership ventures over the next four years, starting with sanction of ₹10,000 crore in the current year and ₹30,000 crore each in the next three financial years. The Central budgetary support will be limited to ₹10,736 crore, according to an official statement.

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