Migrant workers coming from other states wait to get a Rapid Antigen Test for the COVID-19 coronavirus in New Delhi.

Govt. has no data of migrant workers’ death, loss of job

1.04 crore migrant workers returned to home States during lockdown, Minister tells LS


The Ministry of Labour and Employment did not have any data of migrant workers who lost their jobs and their lives during the COVID-19 lockdown , Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar on Monday informed the Lok Sabha through written replies to several members’ questions

The Minister told the House “no such data is maintained” when asked if the government had carried out any assessment of job losses of migrant workers as well as if it was aware of workers who died on their way back to their home States during the lockdown.

Also Read | Lack of jobs force migrant labourers to return to cities they left in March

In response to multiple questions, the Minister provided data of the number of migrant workers who returned to their home States during the lockdown imposed in March. A total of 1,04,66,152 workers had returned, with 32,49,638 returning to Uttar Pradesh and 15,00,612 to Bihar.

Replying to a question from BJP member Kaushal Kishore, the Minister said “forced retention during COVID-19 has not been reported” when asked for “details of reasons to withhold the migrant labourers in these States itself due to Corona and non-availability of prompt facility of their shelter and food”.

Mr. Kishore asked for the number and details of migrant workers, labourers and daily wagers “for whom the arrangement of job has been made”. To this, the Minister replied, “No such data is maintained.”

The replies were given on the first day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament that is being conducted with social distancing, mask-wearing and no Question Hour – the first since the lockdown was imposed. Activists have been raising their concern over a lack of a database of migrant workers, which is supposed to be maintained under the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979.

Also Read | Centre asks States to conduct free testing on migrant workers for COVID-19

“Under the Act, States should create the database of migrant workers. Since the government now has the data of a large number of workers who returned to their home States, they can continue the process of registration and then real-time tracking. They need to take this as an opportunity,” said Asif Shaikh, director of Jan Sahas.

Jan Sahas report

In April, Jan Sahas brought out a report after a rapid assessment of over 3,000 construction workers in the early days of the lockdown. Speaking to 3,196 migrant workers on March 27-29, Jan Sahas found that 92.%% of the labourers had “already lost work ranging from one week to three weeks”.

Activists and academics tracking the non-COVID-19 deaths reported in the media found that over 900 people had died due to lockdown-related reasons such as starvation, suicide and road accidents while walking long distances to their homes till July 4, according to the database available on the website of public interest technologist Thejesh G.N.