Bhubaneswar: The prolonged nationwide lockdown, imposed by the government to check the spread of Covid-19, has hit migrant labourers of Odisha badly.
Not only have they been rendered jobless, their future, post lockdown, is also a major concern.
To understand how to cope with the plight of migrant labourers from Odisha, Gram Vikas, in partnership with the Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development (CMID), conducted a rapid assessment earlier this month.
The following recommendations have been made towards alleviating the miseries of Odisha’s migrant labourers, post lockdown:
1. Government of Odisha should take immediate measures to ensure cash transfer to the stranded migrant labourers: This will enable the stranded workers to arrange meals and buy train tickets if they wish to return.
2. Provide counselling to stranded migrant workers through outbound calls and facilitate logical decision making: This will help the stranded migrant workers to make logical decisions rather than emotionally charged ones during these difficult times.
3. Reimagine rural development within the state rather than leaving the labourers to be exploited in other states: Labourers who currently move to other states for work are likely to stay back and work locally if they are assured a livelihood opportunity that fetches them a monthly income of around ₹10,000.
4. Prioritise households with migrants for lending: Migrant workers who return to their native villages and plan to find alternative livelihood should be encouraged to invest in medium and long-term livelihood options.
5. Focus on skill training/recognition beyond current initiatives: The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) needs to be given a fillip, to acknowledge the experiences gained by the migrant labourers in different sectors. This will benefit both, those who wish to find job options locally and those who explore livelihood options in other states.
6. Source-destination collaborations with the southern states such as Kerala, can ensure the workers decent wages and better social protection: In order to ensure the best wage rates and relatively less exploitative working arrangements for the interstate labourers, Government of Odisha may forge partnerships with destination states such as Kerala which offers the best wage rates in India and relatively better social security measures for migrant labourers.
7. Promote adaptive behaviour among migrant labourers so that their remittances substantially improve the resilience of the households: This can substantially improve the resilience of the migrant households so that the majority of them are able to manage on their own during shocks. This is particularly strategic in the context of Odisha which is highly vulnerable to natural disasters.