A DAY after Punjab government announced a helpline for sending migrants/students stranded in the state back home, it received a total of 21,676 applications till 8.30 pm Friday evening from different parts of the state. A total of 54618 people applied through these 21676 applications. Out of these, the maximum applications were from Ludhiana (9,271), followed by Mohali (3,594) and Patiala (1,839).
The helpline www.covidhelp.punjab.gov.in started functioning from 9 am Friday and will be operational till 9 am, May 3. Officials said that in one application, maximum 25 people can apply as a family or a group.
“Nearly, 9,271 applicants are from Ludhiana alone which houses the maximum migrants,” confirmed Pardeep Agarwal, DC, Ludhiana.
Nodal officer for the helpline, Sumeet Jarangal, said, “21,676 applications have come so far and more are pouring in. A total of 54618 people have applied through these applications.”
Medical screening of all applicants will be done and only asymptomatic ones will go, as per guidelines of the Union government. Punjab government has said that medical screening will start from May 3 itself and will be completed by May 4 evening.
Punjab has workers from 20 states and 3 UTs working in the state, with a major chunk being from UP and Bihar. Government officials have done a break up of all these workers based on their native states. The other states from where workers have come to Punjab are Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Haryana , Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha and from UTs Delhi, Puducherry, J&K, Ladakh.
Many students from these states are also studying in Punjab. Hundreds of students from J&K have been sent back from Amritsar, Sangrur and Bathinda in the past few days.
Punjab government also has a Parwasi Board to look after interests of migrants. Ram Prasad Yadav, former Chairman of Parwasi Board, Punjab, said, “In 2016, during the SAD-BJP regime, we had got a survey done of migrants and had found that approximately 37 lakh migrants are in Punjab from different states of India and maximum are from UP and Bihar. Ludhiana has the maximum migrants which are about 12 lakh followed by Bathinda with approximately 3 lakhs and Mohali was around 2.90 lakh, while Amritsar has 1.17 lakh. This board is almost defunct after Congress came to power.”
However, around 10 per cent of the total migrants in the state are well settled with their own business, while another 20 per cent have good jobs and houses here. Yadav said,” Those who want to go back are mostly daily wagers. Many factories in Punjab hire workers via contractors and don’t give them regular perks. Such workers must be keen to leave and they will not come back soon.”
Many factories have started operating in Punjab. On May 1, this number was 4,188 with 1.23 lakh workers engaged.
As per the guidelines issued by Ministry of Home Affairs, Shramik Special trains are being run to move migrants during the lockdown.
“The railways and state governments will appoint senior officials as Nodal Officers for coordination and smooth operation of these Shramik Specials,” said Rajesh Dutt Bajpai, Executive Director, Information and Publicity, Ministry Of Railways. It is mandatory for every passenger keep their faces covered during the journey with meals and drinking water being provided by the railways.
Meanwhile, industry representatives in the state have urged CM Amarinder Singh and the Ministry of Railways not allow passenger trains to operate for the next 45 days.
“Government is asking industry to operate. But on the other hand, it is giving permission to labourers to go to their native places. Both these decisions are contradictory. Such special trains should not be allowed to operate for the next 45 days,” said Gurmeet Singh Kular, president, Federation of Industrial & Commercial Organisation. He added that sending the labour away would make it difficult for the industry to operate.
Migrant workers in Punjab
Total – Nearly 37 lakh
Ludhiana – 12 lakh
Bathinda – 3 lakh
Mohali – 2.9 lakh
Amritsar – 1.17 lakh
(Source: Parwasi Board’s 2016 survey)
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