NHRC issues more advisories on bonded labourers, migrant workers amid COVID-19 second wave

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New Delhi, Jun 1 (PTI) In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Human Rights Commission has issued more advisories to various ministries and states on the adverse impact faced by labourers and migrant informal sector workers, officials said on Tuesday.

The country has been reeling under a devastating second wave of the pandemic since April, triggering lockdowns in states and Union Territories to combat COVID-19.

'The NHRC, keeping in view the adverse effects of the pandemic on different sections of society, has issued three more advisories to the Centre, states and union territories as part of its 2.0 series of Covid-19 pandemic advisories,' the NHRC said in a statement.

These advisories are -- right to mental health; identifying, releasing and rehabilitating bonded labourers; and safeguarding the rights of informal workers during the pandemic.

The Commission, in a letter through its Secretary General, Bimbadhar Pradhan to the Secretaries of Union ministries of health and family welfare; labour & unemployment; women & child welfare; chief secretaries of states and administrators of UTs has asked for the implementation of its recommendations in the advisories and the action taken report within four weeks, the statement said.

The national body has observed that the issues that arose during the pandemic have led to 'adverse mental health outcomes, particularly among the vulnerable groups,' it said.

Accordingly, the advisory on right to mental health has focused on 10 key areas of required action. These are: access to mental healthcare, dissemination of information, awareness, grievance redressal and review board, extending outreach of mental health support, support for special groups, suicide prevention, health insurance, media sensitivity in reporting and promoting research, it said.

In the advisory on bonded labourers, the Commission, besides the specific recommendations divided into five key categories of prevention, identification, rescue, rehabilitation and repatriation and legal aid to the district administration, has given 11 specific recommendations to the Centre and state governments and UTs, the statement said.

Further, expressing serious concern over the condition of informal workers, the NHRC has observed that with the closure of employment opportunities in urban areas due to lockdowns, most informal workers or unorganised sector workers, also migrants into towns and cities of India, are severely impacted.

'With huge reverse migration in the first wave and disruptions in the agricultural value chains over the year, COVID-19 has impacted the rural economy and the livelihoods of informal and agricultural workers in rural areas too.

'It has further noted that all evidence points to a deep economic crisis of job loss, reduced wages, shrinking of economy and manufacturing sector. In the report titled 'State of Working India 2021: One year of COVID-19' (2021), 23 crore Indians have been pushed into poverty in the past one year. These are families primarily in the informal sector,' the statement said. PTI KND HDA