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1.31 lakh sugarcane workers in Maharashtra can now travel back home

Sugar mill owners to ensure health check up, transport, travel permissions

April 18, 2020 01:20 am | Updated 01:20 am IST - Mumbai

In what could turn out to be the biggest evacuation plan within the State, the Maharashtra government on Friday decided to allow over one lakh migrant sugarcane workers to return to their native villages.

As per the guidelines signed by Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta, over 1.31 lakh migrant labourers and their families, who work in 38 sugar factories, are unable to go to their native districts due to the nationwide lockdown in place to curb the spread of novel coronavirus. These workers have been living in temporary shelters in the sugar mills.

Maharashtra typically sees migration by labourers after Deepavali from drought prone Marathwada, especially Beed district, to work in the sugarcane fields of western Maharashtra . The season lasts till March.

This year, they have been unable to travel back home due to the lockdown. Even though the sugar mills were directed to provide them all essentials, the Bandra incident has forced the State government to rethink it’s strategy and chalk out an intra-State evacuation plan.

As per Friday’s directive, the managing directors of the sugar mills will list the native village, tehsil and district of the labourers and their families living in the shelter for more than 14 days. “They will have to undergo a medical check-up and the list sent to the collector of their present residence and to the collector of the native district,” it said.

Sugar mills will be responsible for transport and necessary permissions for the travel of labourers. “The village heads (sarpanch) of the native villages of these workers will receive them and give certificate for the same,” the notification said.

Welcoming the decision Social Justice Minister Dhananjay Munde, who hails from Beed, said, “It will ensure that they can now live with their families.”

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