Cabinet Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday said that migrant workers are beginning to come back as industries have started opening up with social distancing norms. The Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Road Transport and Highways, said the country has to learn the “art of living with coronavirus”.
However, the minister did not specify the number of jobs lost due to the pandemic and the lockdown. Responding to a question regarding the impact on employment across industries, Gadkari said, “There has not been any official analysis of (the number of jobs lost) due to the Covid problem,” but Covid has “definitely impacted it”.
“There is a general impression that 100 per cent of the country’s industry is running on migrant labour. Only 10 to 20 per cent people come from outside,” he said.
Gadkari said that not all migrant workers had returned to their home states and many have started coming back, even among those who had left. “It is not true that all 20 per cent have gone back to their states. Some have gone back. They had come for employment. As the process to open up the industry has started, 40 to 50 per cent people have started coming.”
The minister said that industries have started working again with the “guiding principles of wearing masks, maintaining a social distance of one metre and cleaning hands with sanitisers”. Some industries, he said, have also created living and eating facilities for their workers.
Citing the example of the “recycling industry,” which, he said, is worth “Rs 5 lakh crore”, Gadkari said it had reached out to him and “told me a few days back that they want to come back”. He said he advised them to “get permissions and fulfil formalities at the district level and asked industry representatives to make arrangements for them.
“I always say that now it is important for everybody to learn the art of living with coronavirus. We will have to do similar things in the industry. We are trying to build self-confidence with positivity, and some people are in a position to come back and employment and industry are starting on a large scale.” He said that good results will follow “if we regularise a lot of things following the guiding principles”.
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