MORE THAN 67 lakh migrants returned to 116 districts in six states from urban centres. Of these, about 44 lakh, or about two-third, returned to 53 districts. And, Bihar topped the six states with 23.6 lakh returning to 32 districts, followed by UP with 17.48 lakh to 31 districts.
These are the key pointers from preliminary data compiled by the Union Skill Development Ministry on the return of migrant workers since the Covid lockdown was imposed in March.
Sources told The Indian Express that the final numbers would be much more as the data available so far does not include West Bengal and Chhattisgarh, two major destinations for returning migrants. Besides, the Supreme Court has directed the Centre and states to facilitate the return of migrants to their home states within the next 15 days.
The data, meanwhile, shows a further concentration of returning migrants in 15 districts, including eight from Bihar, of the 53 that recorded over a lakh each. The other 38 districts reported the return of 50,000-100,000 migrants during the lockdown.
Siddharthnagar in UP tops the 15 districts with 1.6 lakh returning migrants. The others are: East Champaran (1.5 lakh), Katihar (1.4 lakh), Madhubani (1.25 lakh), Gaya (1.2 lakh), West Champaran (1.2 lakh), Darbhanga (1.03 lakh), Araria (1.01 lakh) and Muzaffarpur (1.01 lakh) in Bihar; Pali (1.4 lakh), Udaipur (1.3 lakh) and Jalore (1.1 lakh) in Rajasthan; Ganjam (1.25 lakh) in Odisha; Prayagraj (1.05 lakh) in UP; and, Balaghat (1.03 lakh) in MP.
The total number of returning migrants, even under a preliminary assessment, is significant since the 2011 Census had recorded 2.19 crore people as new inter-state migrants across a decade since 2001.
Sources said the Skill Development Ministry has submitted a proposal to the Prime Minister to upskill 3 lakh of these migrant workers with short-term programmes that will include training on new machines and awareness of health protocols, and social distancing norms.
Asked about the small number of workers to be trained, the sources said: “The plan is to provide two-month training for 1.5 lakh people and short-term training of 15 days for another 1.5 lakh. The Ministry currently has funds for a total of 3 lakh people because the spending on one person would be Rs 1,200.”
The Centre has already picked these 116 districts to implement schemes linked to the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative.
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