Call to set up common data portal for migrant travel

SWAN flags glaring lacunae in Home Ministry’s orders

Published - May 12, 2020 11:06 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Going home:  Migrant workers walking to their home State of Chhattisgarh from Bhubaneswar.

Going home: Migrant workers walking to their home State of Chhattisgarh from Bhubaneswar.

Despite the provision of special trains and buses, a second wave of migrant workers has now begun walking home again. This is because of glaring lacunae in the Union Home Ministry’s orders, leading to confusion on registration procedures, arbitrary travel protocols and a black market in Shramik Special tickets, says an analysis by the Stranded Workers Action Network (SWAN), a volunteer group.

Also read: Data | Migrant workers' distress continues as nationwide lockdown extended for the second time

On Tuesday, SWAN wrote to Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, recommending that the Ministry set up a common data portal for migrants to register their travel requests. “It will also take data from existing State-specific mobile apps. The portal in turn interfaces with all stakeholders involved in planning and support in their journey including medical staff, police, district authorities of both States and the Railways,” says the letter.

It added that registration of workers on the portal must be unconditional, based only on the workers’ choice to return home. The onus for issuing passes should lie with the State from which the migrant is travelling, it said.

Conflicts in orders

The network identified problems with the current system, including conflicts in the four orders dealing with inter-State travel issued by the Ministry since April 29, as well as 10 major gaps in the standard operating procedures for inter-State travel issued on May 11.

Also read: Lockdown extension without extra support will lead to severe distress, agitations among poor

The current State portals have varying information requirements, including photo uploads and ID scans in different file formats. Many migrants have to register twice on the portals of both source and destination States. Portals for two crucial States, Delhi and Bihar, are not functional, said SWAN. “In the absence of information on the number of trains, a black market has developed Migrants have reported paying between ₹1,500-8,000 per person to register for travel by private bus and trains,” said the letter. SWAN added that a large number of workers had been forced to join a second migrant exodus on foot, with tragic reports of deaths along the way, including the 16 people run over on railway tracks in Maharashtra and women forced to give birth by the roadside.

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