Srinagar: The government has started a rapid assessment survey in Jammu and Kashmir to find out how many migrant labourers are in need of help and also to know whether they are willing to return to their native places.
According to official sources, the labour department has started the survey on fast track basis as it doesn’t have the specific data it needs on labourers and migrant workers in Jammu and Kashmir.
The information about labourers has to be compiled using a particular format under three categories: those who are residing in shelter homes established by government during the Covid-19 lockdown, those housed by their employers, and labourers staying in other places including slums or jhuggis.
“Most of the labourers and other migrant workers are facing huge crisis and livelihood issues in Jammu and Kashmir due to the coronavirus lockdown,” said a labour officer.
“That is why the department is doing their headcount in every district,” he said.
A senior official in the department told Kashmir Reader that the government is working on a policy to address livelihood problems of labourers and daily wagers to support them during the coronavirus lockdown and facilitate their return to native places.
“Apart from their KYC and bank details we are asking their consent whether they are willing to go home despite the lockdown and coronavirus outbreak,” he said.
The Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown has put migrant workers in a tight spot as they have lost their livelihood and have nowhere to go.
A recent study by civil society group Jan Sahas suggests that nearly 92.5 percent of labourers have already lost one to three weeks of work.
“Over 80 percent of India’s migrant and daily wage population fear it will run out of food before the end of the lockdown on April 14. Same percentage of workers are worried that they will not be able to find work once the lockdown ends,” the study, which surveyed over 3,000 migrant workers across northern and central India between March 27 to 29, has found.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the labour department has already identified 56,000 non-local labourers who are facing job losses and need help.
Most of them have been sent to government shelter homes and district administrations are providing them ration and other essentials.
Labour Commissioner Abdul Rashid Var said the department is encouraging all labourer and migrant workers to call the dedicated helpline numbers so that their stay and food can be facilitated.
He also confirmed that a survey was underway in every district to identify labourers so that help can be provided to them.
“We don’t want things to go out of hand amid the coronavirus lockdown. There are a huge number of non-local workers in J&K. We are reaching out to them with the help of our labour and employment officers and other field workers,” the Commissioner said.
“We are also taking their contact details and consent so that their home return can be facilitated in case government of India comes up with some plan,” he said.
The labour department has also provided monetary help to local labourers by depositing Rs 1000 in the bank accounts of each registered worker.
As per official data, there are nearly 3.5 lakh local labourers registered with the Labour and Employment Department. However, only 1.5 lakh are at present active.
Var said the department had provided monetary relief among 1,45,788 local workers whose bank details were available with it, while the remaining 6,643 workers will be given the monetary help after their bank details reach the department.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir PK Pole has appealed to the non-local labours to stay put wherever they are as the government will provide them everything.
“I can understand that workers might be in distress as they are away from their families. But, this time our priority is that no one is without food and shelter,” Pole said.
He said the decision about facilitating the home return of migrant workers will be taken at the appropriate time.
“Once the situation sees a semblance of normalcy we will want everyone to meet their families and government will definitely facilitate them,” Pole added.