Just days after the Maharashtra government came under fire when around 2,000 migrant workers protested on the road in suburban Mumbai, several states are lining up plans to provide cash assistance to their residents who are stranded in other states during the extended lockdown.
The largest number of beneficiaries of these schemes will be in Maharashtra, where lakhs of migrant labourers are currently living in challenging conditions, often unable to access food and sanitation and having gone without wages for well more than three weeks now.
The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh is currently analysing suggestions and data from two committees — one formed by the state BJP and the other comprising senior government officials — on how many such labourers will need relief, and how much may be paid. Similarly, the BJP governments in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Haryana have set up committees to assess the extent of relief that may need to be provided.
In Jharkhand, which was quickest off the block, Chief Minister Hemant Soren launched a mobile application on Friday through which the state’s natives in other states can register for assistance of Rs 2,000, to be paid to every Aadhaar-verified applicant via direct benefit transfer.
“We are mapping only two things – the Adhaar number that we will verify through the Adhaar database and our own database; and the details of account holders in any bank in Jharkhand,” said A P Singh, the state Principal Secretary (Education) and also the nodal officer for relief to be provided to Jharkhand natives stranded in Maharashtra.
Jharkhand’s migrants elsewhere can now simply download the app, which allows multiple persons from a family to register on a single phone, and upload a selfie along with their Aadhaar and bank account details. The disbursals are to be done by the end of next week, said Singh. The last date for registration is April 22.
Together, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand account for well over 2 million migrant workers across India, including an estimated 6 to 7 lakh in Maharashtra alone.
In Madhya Pradesh, a decision is expected within the next two days on how much cash assistance can be paid to the state’s workers currently stranded in other states. On Thursday, the government announced that it has paid cash assistance to 7,000 workers from 22 states who are currently stuck in MP, and also that it has appointed a committee to ensure relief to labourers from MP who are stranded outside.
The MP government estimates that about 1.5 lakh workers from the state are in various parts of Maharashtra, mainly Mumbai, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Nagpur. State BJP spokesperson Deepak Vijayvargiya said elected representatives, including MPs and MLAs as well as district officials, have been asked to analyse district-wise numbers of migrants in other states who will require relief. “Cash assistance to their bank accounts will be announced in the next two days,” Vijayvargiya said. Not wishing to speculate on the sum, he said it would be “adequate to meet their current needs” before they can return home.
The BJP-led government in Assam also announced on Monday that it would provide assistance to its people stranded in states including Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi. The aid is to be provided through a helpline number.
The government of Meghalaya, which has natives in large numbers in south India, North-East and West Bengal, as well as in Mumbai and Nagpur, has also asked its people in need of assistance to register on a specialised portal. Following verification of their documents, they will provide up to Rs 3,000 through the CM’s special grant.
“According to our rough data, around 5,000 Meghalaya residents currently living outside may require such help, but even if the number is higher, the relief shall be provided,” said CP Gotmare, Secretary (Education and Planning), who is also overseeing relief payment to migrants. The Meghalaya government has also been running a helpline for migrant workers in other states, fielding calls from some requiring help getting food or shelter.