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With fewer migrants returning in COVID 2.0, U.P. says many stayed back after 1st wave

In this photo of 26th April, 2021, migrant workers and their family member are seen waiting for transport near Red Fort on way to Uttar Pradesh during the weeklong lockdown due to COVID-19 in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

Just four lakh migrant workers returned to Uttar Pradesh during the second COVID-19 wave this year, compared to 40 lakh workers after the national lockdown of 2020, indicating many of these workers may not have returned to their earlier workplaces after the first wave and got gainfully employed in U.P., top State officials said on Thursday.

“Last year, 40 lakh migrants came back. We assessed their skills and offered them work based on those skills in every district. We asked them if they would like to set up a unit there, while others were linked to MGNREGA,” said Sidharth Nath Singh, U.P.’s minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Stressing that U.P. was the only State to do a skill mapping exercise of returning migrants last year, Additional Chief Secretary Navneet Sehgal pointed out that just four lakh migrants have returned after restrictions were imposed to curb the second wave in large States like Maharashtra and Gujarat.

“This means that the rest (of the 40 lakh migrants who returned in 2020) didn’t go back at all. If they didn’t go back, that means they have got some occupation here. This is a misnomer that when the lockdown happens, people will return. This time, just four lakh came back and it shows many had got work here itself,” said Mr. Sehgal, who oversees MSMEs, Export Promotion, Khadi & Village Industry in the State administration.

No MSME unit in the State had closed down due to the COVID pandemic, though some may have seen a reduction in their turnover, Mr. Sehgal said.

“We never closed down any industries during the first or second wave. So no units closed down as such. Demand went down all over India… a portal was created to help MSMEs last year and we are working closely banks to work out a revival plan for any unit that needs help,” Mr. Singh said, adding that credit guarantees worth ₹12,222 crore have been extended to 4 lakh units under the Centre’s Aatma Nirbhar Bharat relief package.

U.P.’s Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) was ₹12 lakh crore when the current government assumed office and is likely to reach ₹19 lakh crore by the time assembly elections take place in 2022, the minister said. The State that had the fifth highest GSDP is now second only to Maharashtra, he asserted.

Mr. Sehgal said the key challenges for MSMEs have been pending GST refunds and securing dues from government agencies apart from bank financing. The State has altered its procurement policy to mandate 25% purchases from MSMEs.

A survey has been kicked off to assess details of unregistered micro and small units from the unorganised sector so that the State can help improve their functioning.

74 lakh new MSME units have been set up since 2017-18 in addition to 90 lakh that already existed, while exports from the State grew to ₹1.21 lakh crore in 2020-21 from around ₹89,000 crore.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 11:19:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/with-fewer-migrants-returning-in-covid-20-up-says-many-stayed-back-after-1st-wave/article35341287.ece

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