Survey Report: 71% Returnees Won’t Leave Odisha If They Get Stable Employment

Sambalpur: A study on migrant labourers has found that around 71 per cent of those who have returned to Odisha from different parts of the country due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown are not interested in going elsewhere if they find stable employment opportunities in their home state.

The study — ‘Perception of returnee migrants on COVID-19 and its impact on social and migratory status’ — was conducted by Centre of Excellence Regional Development and Tribal Studies of Sambalpur University through a telephonic survey.

It was conducted in four western Odisha districts of Sambalpur, Bolangir, Deogarh and Bargarh. A total of 227 migrant returnees — made up of 88 from Bargarh, 75 from Sambalpur, 35 from Bolangir and 29 from Deogarh — were interviewed for the survey.

According to the study, people from these four districts of western Odisha migrate primarily for employment and would not migrate if constant employment opportunities are created in the region.

People from Bolangir usually migrate to Tamil Nadu to work in textile units in the southern state. Strangely, there is no textile factory in Bolangir even though cotton is cultivated in the region.

Prof. Arun Kumar Archarya of Sambalpur University said that if agricultural infrastructure is strengthened in the state, people will not migrate to other parts of the country for employment. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) does not provide constant employment opportunities to labourers, who are thus compelled to migrate to other states for jobs.

The study also revealed that around 50 per cent of the migrant returnees are below the age of 25 years, while about 15 per cent never attended school and 46 per cent have studied up to primary school level.

Among other findings of the study was that majority of migrants returned from southern and western states — 22 per cent returned from Tamil Nadu, 14 per cent from Andhra Pradesh, 10 per cent from Telangana and 9 per cent from Maharashtra.

Most of the others returned from Karnataka, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, and Gujarat.

About 47 per cent of the returnees said that they came back to Odisha because the industries where they were working had closed down due to the lockdown, while 36.3 per cent returned as they were worried about contracting novel coronavirus.

Some of the migrant labourers weren’t allowed to enter their native villages, some faced discrimination and isolation even after completing quarantine.

The returnees have mostly been working in agricultural farms and as daily wage labourers.

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