The Union labour ministry said in parliament on September 14 that there is no data on migrant deaths so the "question does not arise" of compensation. The comment came in response to a question on whether families of those who died while trying to reach their home amid the COVID-19 lockdown had been compensated.
The government's written response in Lok Sabha on the first day of the Parliament's monsoon session triggered massive criticism from the opposition. The ministry admitted that over 1 crore migrants had gone back to their homes from various states of the country.
The ministry was also questioned the government about whether it was aware of the number of migrant workers who lost their lives while going back home. The Government was also asked about the compensation extended to such families, responding to which Union labour minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar said, "No such data is maintained. Question does not arise in view of the above".
"Shocking that the labour ministry says it has no data on migrant deaths and hence no question of compensation," the Congress's Digvijaya Singh said. "Sometimes I feel we are blind or the government feels it can take everyone for granted," he said.
Days after the country went into a nationwide lockdown in March to curb the spread of Coronavirus, lakhs of migrant workers started for their hometowns. Some went on foot while others made some make-shift arrangements. Many died before they could even reach home.
After weeks of heart breaking images of migrants on roads, the centre decided to start running special trains for the workers.
However, many continued to walk back to their homes on foot, three-wheelers and trucks, sometimes leading to accidents due to confusion over who was to pay for the tickets.