Kerala

Migrant workers without smart phones left in the lurch

They are being deprived of their States’ DBT scheme

Migrant workers without smart phones and technical and financial literacy are being edged out of the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) by their respective State governments, say experts operating among migrants.

The governments of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Assam are crediting amounts ranging between ₹1,000 and ₹2,000 to individual bank accounts of migrants stranded in other States.

“Few migrants have received it since they either do not have smart phones to download the app or could not register on the portal concerned. Besides, not all of them have the technical know-how or even bank accounts for that matter,” said George Mathew, coordinator, Progressive Workers Organisation.

For instance, a survey conducted by the Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development (CMID) found that while 51.6% migrants in Ernakulam have smart phones, 46% used basic feature phones and 2.3% have no access to mobile phones.

Vulnerable sections

“The most vulnerable sections among migrants like tribespeople and the aged may either be using feature phone or have no phone at all thus depriving them of the much needed cash assistance,” said Benoy Peter, CMID executive director.

P.B. Salim, West Bengal State Nodal Officer for people stranded due to COVID-19, observed that majority of the migrants were in the relative young age group of 30 to 50 years and has their fair share of financial literacy since they transfer money to their families back home monthly. He, however, admitted that there may be some exceptions addressing which would not be easy in the prevailing situation.

Sharing info

Mr. Mathews felt that the Kerala government could forward details of migrants, including their bank accounts, to their respective governments since it was already collecting details of migrants stranded here.

However, Mr. Peter observed that it would be easier for the respective State governments to identify the beneficiaries and transfer the benefits in consultations with the local bodies concerned to which the migrants belong.

“We do impart awareness in migrant camps about how to avail of these benefits but whether the State can involve in the matter is a policy decision to be taken at the highest level,” a senior official with the State labour department said.

Mr. Salim said that the possibility of a government-to-government level cooperation to streamline the benefit scheme could be explored.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2020 8:46:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/migrant-workers-without-smart-phones-left-in-the-lurch/article31455463.ece

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