While presenting the Union Budget 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tried to address the plight of migrant workers and unorganised sector, were announced.
The government will launch a portal to collect relevant information on gig workers, building/construction workers, among others.
"The portal will help formulate health, housing, skill, insurance credit and food schemes for migrant workers," said Sitharaman.
Besides this, social security benefits will also be extended to gig workers and others. There are around 454 million migrants in India, out of which 60 million are inter-state labour migrants. According to the East Asia Forum, there is no comprehensive data on migrant workers at the national, regional, and global levels.
The basic details about how they are recruited, where they live and work, as well as their vulnerabilities to shocks (the one the COVID-19 pandemic), are unknown.
The migrant workers are employed under the informal sector, doing unskilled jobs in textiles, manufacturing, construction, hotel transportation, domestic work etc. They return to shelters in slums where they share small rooms with 5-6 people, after finishing their work at their worksites.
On May 20, the Finance Minister had said the government wanted to help migrants but lacked the data to reach out to them. It was challenging to locate vulnerable migrant labourers among a population of 1.3 billion people.
They were worst hit during the lockdown last year due to the pandemic, which forced them to vacate their places where they used to work (in different states) and find their ways to their native homes in other states. They had to carry their babies, luggage etc. over their heads and walk on highways and railway tracks under a blistering sun, as there were no transport facilities for them by the government.
The minister also said that the families of migrant workers would be allowed ration under One Nation, One Ration Card scheme. The scheme is under implementation by 32 states and Union Territories.
One Nation, One Ration Card scheme was launched by the Union Government on a pilot basis in four states in 2019. This scheme aims to ensure all beneficiaries, especially migrant workers, get ration (wheat, rice and other food grains) across the nation from any Public Distribution System (PDS) shop of their own choice.
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