These are some of the findings mentioned in a report prepared by Jharkhand’s Social Audit Unit, under the Rural Development Department, created to “promote transparency and accountability in implementation of the programs”.
The sweeping economic distress triggered by the Covid pandemic and lockdown has pushed countless out of jobs, set off one of the biggest reverse migrations in recent times and pushed millions of small businesses to the edge.
Experts said the state does not have a “concrete” elephant management plan. Steady depletion of forest habit forces elephants to enter villages looking for food. From 2016 till January this year, 301 people have died, 609 people have been injured in the conflict.
A May 22 communication from the Ministry of Home Affairs to Chairman, Railway Board, seeking 11 trains to transport 11,815 labourers from Jharkhand to work for the BRO in Ladakh and other areas, set off a series of communication between the state government and BRO.
The report on money granted for work that was never done and employment that had never been created assumes significance as the state government has launched three schemes under MGNREGA, anticipating work demand from the nearly 5 lakh migrant workers who have returned home after lockdown hit livelihood in cities.
“The accused pulled out a bottle of acid and poured it in my mouth…it was bleeding, I could not speak anything then…After two months I narrated my ordeal to my parents,” the FIR stated quoting the minor.
The Indian Express spoke to ten labourers across several states, and found that only one of them received pending wages preceding the lockdown. During the lockdown period, none got paid — none expected to either. All they hoped for was to get the pending wages for the time that they had worked.
The group working for Border Roads Organisation includes a 26-year-old who had had enough of near-death terrains and wild bear, a labourer whose wife eloped, men whose relatives died, farmers who want to be back home before paddy sowing season.
Government data accessed by The Indian Express shows that in February 2020, before the lockdown was imposed, Chhattisgarh recorded 37,984 institutional deliveries, which rose to 38,449 in March. Following the lockdown, the number of institutional deliveries fell to 32,529 in April.
The Indian Express spoke to a cross-section of migrant workers back from different parts of the country. These are day labourers and skilled workers such as carpenter, embroiderer, welder, among others. One thread connects them — demand for something beyond MGNREGA.
147 migrant workers, who returned to the state, have tested positive of the virus, which is below 1% of the total being tested. Migrants labourers currently form 80% of the total active cases in Jharkhand.
“This is just the beginning. The question is what option do we have. You cannot turn away people coming to their homes. We are moving with caution, but it is a serious cause for worry,” said Chief Secretary Sukhdev Singh.
Along with the regular counter sales, the Excise Department said that people would use an application developed by the state NIC to get ‘e tokens’ and based on the allotted timings they will be able buy it from the respective shops.
Of the 26 people who were killed on the highway in Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya early on Saturday, 11 were migrant labourers headed back to their village. Their bodies reached their homes on Monday evening — travelling the 800 km in some 30 hours.
Inside, the post-mortem examiners were still at work. A farm hand from Palamu in Jharkhand, Sudama said he had paid Rs 19,000 to a car driver who had brought him and his brother-in-law Guddu Yadav to Auraiya.
Asked why he did not wait for a train from Rajasthan to go home, Umesh says, “I waited all this while, but people who worked at the factory were gradually leaving and I felt like I was betraying my family by staying at the factory. How long could I have waited?”
According to sources in Uttar Pradesh government, about 10 lakh additional migrant workers are expected to return in the coming weeks. They said Maharashtra had 5.6 lakh workers from UP, Delhi had 5.1 lakh, Gujarat 3 lakh, Haryana 1.3 lakhs, and Punjab about 77,000.
Pramod Rai, Kamlesh Sahu, Ravi Maurya, Dinesh Kharadi, Ajay Manjhi, Gajraj Yadav, and Abdul Azim are the “luckier” ones, having made their way back to their villages after long journeys. As they rework their budgets and life, what keeps them going is the whiff of their dreams