To address the problem of migrant labourers and prevent their exodus from the state amid the COVID-19 crisis, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has asked all industrial units and brick kilns in the state to commence operations with such migrants if they have adequate provisions to accommodate them safely within the premises.
Captain Amarinder said his government was also in discussion with Radha Soami Satsang Beas, which has already offered its Bhawans as quarantine facilities, to allow migrant labourers to stay there as these people would be needed for wheat harvesting in the fields in two weeks’ time.
The owners of industrial units and brick kilns can commence production if they have enough space to accommodate the migrant labourers and provide them with food, said the Chief Minister, while appealing to the owners to ensure that social distancing is maintained during this period.
All hygiene precautions must be made fully available at all such industrial facilities for workers, said Captain Amarinder, adding that the owners should also make soap and water freely available for use by the workers and regularly sanitise the common facilities. Hand wash facilities and sanitisers should be placed prominently at strategic points, said the Chief Minister.
The directions and discussions came amid reports of lakhs of migrant labourers getting stranded across the nation, and the problem assuming ominous proportions with such labourers gathering in large numbers at borders in many states, according to an official spokesperson. The Government of India has directed states to adhere strictly to the national lockdown, including sealing of the borders for human movement, to check the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.
The Chief Minister said this would be beneficial for both, the industry/brick kiln owners as well as the labourers who had lost their employment and homes in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, and had been left to fend for themselves.
Captain Amarinder reiterated his government’s commitment to ensure that nobody, including such labourers, daily wagers etc, are deprived of food and other basic necessities in this hour of crisis. In line with the Chief Minister’s directives, the Punjab Labour Department has also issued an advisory to employers/owners of private establishments, including Industries, Factories, Shops and Commercial Establishments etc, not to terminate their employees/workers, particularly casual and contractual workers, from their jobs, and not to deduct their wages/salary.
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