At Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s video conference with Chief Minister on Monday, Yogi Adityanath admitted that ensuring the welfare of migrant workers was a “huge challenge” even as his administration announced special trains would run from Jhansi, which is near the Madhya Pradesh border, to different parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh.
The decision to run special trains was taken following guidelines issued by the Centre amid an increasing number of deaths of migrant workers walking home.
“The Chief Minister has ordered that no one should walk on the road to their destination. If someone is reaching the border on foot then respective administration has been instructed to make arrangements for them. While busses are being arranged, there will also be special trains from Jhansi, which will go to districts such as Varanasi, Prayagraj and Gorakhpur,” Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Kumar Awasthi said.
The official said 3.25 lakh workers had travelled to the state in trains and buses in the last four days. Of them, 2.2 lakh had reached the state in 184 trains. About 55 trains were to arrive later on Monday, Awasthi said, adding that about one lakh workers on the border had been given entry permission.
The official said till date the special trains had been received at 42 stations in the state, with Gorakhpur receiving the most — 28 trains that brought 28,334 migrant workers. While 22 trains have taken workers to Lucknow so far, about nine have gone to Jaunpur, 11 to Prayagraj, seven to Unnao, and eight to Varanasi. The government now plans to receive about 50 to 55 trains a day, Awasthi added.
The labourers entering the state are being medically tested and taken to quarantine centers that have been geo-tagged. The centres have been told to provide ration for 15 days to those leaving after their isolation period gets over, according to Awasthi.
The official said the government was uploading the details of all the workers on the border on a software. Now, the government is contacting them to prepare a database of their skills and decide where they can be employed.
The Chief Minister, in his interaction with Modi, underscored the challenge of employing these returning workers, and said the government was preparing a plan to give them jobs. More than 10 lakh were expected to arrive in the near future, he added.
Adityanath told the Prime Minister that his government had enacted labour law reforms to create jobs for 20 lakh people. The Chief Minister said these reforms would be applicable in entirety to the new units, and for existing units these changes would be applicable to the new recruits. While industries in the Green Zone had restarted operations, those in the Orange Zone would be reopened in accordance with the Centre’s guidelines, Adityanath added.
The Chief Minister claimed that more than 15 lakh labourers were currently working in different projects, and said the pandemic would be “conquered” under the Prime Minister’s leadership.
Adityanath told Modi that just on May 1, foodgrain was distributed to 13.28 crore people on 3.19 crore ration cards, including free food grains distributed to 95 lakh ration-card holders.
Explaining the other measures taken by his administration, the Chief Minister said pension for two months, worth Rs Rs 871.46 crore, had been released to about 86 lakh beneficiaries of different schemes. The state government also took steps to protect 4.89 lakh stray cattle through 5,029 cow protection centers, Adityanath added. These animal shelters were being provided fodder with the help of 2,461 fodder banks, he told Modi.
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