The mass exodus of migrant workers after the nationwide lockdown was imposed in March to fight the spread of coronavirus was because of "fake news", the government said in parliament on September 15.
The remark came a day after the centre had said that there was no data on migrant deaths maintained by the government, therefore "no question of" compensation.
The Home Ministry was responding to a written question by Trinamool Congress MP Mala Roy on steps taken for the welfare of migrants before the lockdown was announced on March 25, reasons why thousands of them decided to walk back home and the number of migrants labourers who lost their lives on their journey home.
"The migration of large number of migrant workers was triggered by panic created by fake news regarding duration of lockdown, and people, especially migrant labourers, were worried about adequate supply of basic necessities like food, drinking water, health services and shelter," Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said.
"However, the central government was fully conscious of this, and took all necessary measures to ensure that during the period of the inevitable lockdown, no citizen should be deprived of basic amenities of food, drinking water, medical facilities etc," the minister told Lok Sabha.
"The centre allowed the state governments to use the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) on 28th March itself for providing temporary accommodation, food, clothing, medical care, etc., to homeless people as well as migrant workers. To augment the funds with the states, the Centre released an advance Rs.11, 092 crores from the state disaster funds to states on April 3," Rai said.
Replying to the question on migrant deaths, the minister replied that no such data was maintained.
Heart breaking images of lakhs of migrant workers leaving various states after losing their jobs, income and homes amid the nationwide shutdown were compared by many to the mass exodus during the Partition of 1947.