Frame Policy for Employment of Migrants in Home States, Suggests SBI Report

The government should come out with a policy for gainful employment of migrant labourers in their home states, especially in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, an SBI report suggested on Wednesday.

The report further said that the government can create a comprehensive data base on migrant workers on the basis of travel history on Shramik special trains, call detail records and record of social sector schemes.

"With approximately 58 lakh migrants having gone back to home states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal and more expected, we need a properly crafted policy of gainfully employing such migrant labourers in home states," said SBI Ecowrap.

After the government imposed nation-wide lockdown on March 25, 2020 to curb the spread of coronavirus, lakhs of migrant workers returned to their home states.

"...we need to build up a comprehensive database of migrant workers and formulate a policy for unorganised sector workers. Tracking the call detail records (CDRs) juxtaposed with travel history of the migrant labourers from Shramik Trains could be the first starting point of constructing such database," suggested the SBI report.

The CDRs could give a clear idea of out-migration intensity into districts in states that exhibit a high level of migrant labour movements, the report said, adding these districts could then be the starting point for providing gainful employment to migrant labourers.

The report further said that Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal has accounted for close to 90 per cent of the total migrants and hence it is imperative that tailored policies are crafted to absorb such labourers.

The report further said that with increasing number of migrant labourers back in home town, it will now be extremely difficult for state governments to provide employment.

Against such a background, extending livelihood jobs to job card holders by banks could lead to more money in the hands of the poor and marginalised, it said.

"The banks can advance say 40 per cent of the eligible amount to the MGNREGA cardholders based on a simplified application form with the caveat that the interest on such livelihood loans can be guaranteed by the government, the cost of which is minimal at around Rs 4,000 crore," said Ecowrap. '

Effectively, this loan will be self-liquidated when the MGNREGA cardholder contributes labour and pays off debt.

It further said that MGNREGA is no longer linked to the Minimum Wages Act and as a result, for a number of instances MGNREGA wage is lower than the state's minimum agricultural wage. It has suggested a relook at such norms even for a temporary period.