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A task force on migration, formed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, has asked for portability of Public Distribution System (PDS) within states, provision of dormitories in cities as well as better data collection so as to ensure that there are no barriers to voluntary movement of migrant workers across the country.
Among the five chief recommendations of the panel are creation of migrant helplines and a review of migration-related legal framework at the federal and state levels. These include acts and schemes such as the Interstate Migrant Workmen Act 1979, the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act 2008, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna and National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme.
Three out of 10 people in India are internal migrants with the National Sample Survey estimating the migrant population to be 326 million.
The first-ever migration task force, headed by Partha Mukhopadhyay from the Centre for Policy Research, was set up a year ago. Ministry officials said that the panel is expected to submit its final report in a few of months. “We have circulated the recommendations made in the draft report to all concerned ministries. The report will be finalised once they send their suggestions,” said the official.
In its set of preliminary recommendations, it has said that there must be inter-state arrangements similar to the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha so as to ensure the continuance of PDS and other benefits to migrants.
The panel notes: “One of the major benefits that migrants, especially short term migrants or migrants who do not move with their household lose at the time is access to PDS.” It makes a case for accelerating the portability of PDS within states by using Aadhar as an identification system once the migrant enrols in the destination state.
In terms of housing, the panel has asked for a two-pronged focus on provision of basic services in informal settlements while creating rental housing. This, it states, could be in the form of dormitories where there should be no restriction on duration of stay.
One of the chief recommendations of the report is the need to improve data collection on migration in India. Presently, data on internal migration is available from the Census, conducted once every 10 years, and the National Sample Survey Organisation’s quinquennial migration surveys. So as to make available more updated data on which policies could be based, the panel has said that the NSSO’s quarterly labour force survey could include questions relating to migration. Moreover, census data which is available only till district level, should be released at the sub-district and village levels too, it states.