We are working on our resources so that people do not migrate from Jharkhand in search of work – Hemant Soren

Chief Minister Hemant Soren links migration of workers with Jharkhand's labourers getting the lowest MNREGA wage in India – less than Rs 200, warns centre that the issue of Indian Railway charging migrant workers will be raised in future

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Ranchi: As the migrant workers from different parts of India are returning back to Jharkhand, its Chief Minister Hemant Soren has a clear vision about these workers – he will try his best to provide work to them within the state so that they don’t have to migrate to other states in search of work in future.

Given that Jharkhand alone has over a million (10 lakh) migrant workers stranded across different Indian states, Soren strive better employment opportunities in state is need of the hour.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren in an interview to Mirror Now talked at length about the problems being faced by migrant workers in general across India and Jharkhand in particular.

Will not let go people work outside in future

“Since the beginning I have maintained that the most challenging work for the state will begin when the stranded labourers will return to their respective states. My target is clear – We are trying to use our internal resources to create job opportunities for these workers. We want to provide employment to the migrant workers. These people are depressed at the moment, so we will be using our resources to not just provide work but also to take them out of depression,” he said.

The chief minister further mentioned, “The state has the potential to employ them all, but the previously not much have been done about it. That is why so many people migrant outside state. However, you will be surprised to know that an important job guarantee scheme, MNREGA (Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) which was run for labourers has so many irregularities.”

Low MNREGA wage force labours to migrate

MNREGA workers in backward states like Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa, Chattisgarh get the lowest wage. In developed states the labourers get more pay under the same scheme. “There are several irregularities in the employment guarantee scheme. We can’t even give the labourers Rs 200 as their daily payment. Even after the Prime Minister’s announcement, their daily wage is lesser than Rs 200.

The same labourer can earn between Rs 800- Rs 1000 daily in big cities, so one cannot stop them from getting attracted to metro cities, pointed out CM Soren.

But Kerala, Haryana has over Rs 300 marked as daily wage for labourers enrolled there. “In Himanchal Pradesh too, wages have been divided in two categories- scheduled and non-scheduled area. No such segregation has been made in Jharkhand which has a healthy Adivasi, Dalit and minority population. Central government should take note of it,” he said.

Railway minister should waive off railway fare

“I told Piyush Goyal ji (Railway Minister) that Jharkhand gives highest revenue to Railways, so we deserve concession while bringing back stranded migrant workers from other state. But it proposal of mine is yet to be accepted by the ministry. However, well off people stranded in international shores are being evacuated free of cost,” said the chief minister.

“Right now we will not talk about it, but in future, such issues will be raised and everyone will have to answer it,” Soren warned about the unfair system by centre to charge fare to stranded migrant workers.

Decision to bring back labourers came very late

“I was saying this from day one, but the decision to bring migrant workers back came very late,” Soren said on the recent order issued by the center that allows movement of migrant workers, students and patients during the lockdown.

Elaborating on the seriousness of the migrants moving back to their home states he said, “Workers are being brought back now, when many of them have got infected. It is like, people who got the dust on their body are being told to go home and dust it off there.”

“Why was this not done in the beginning of the lockdown? Had this decision been taken earlier, we would have been in safe zone,” Soren rued.

Can’t leave migrants being treated like animals

The chief minister added, “I am welcoming them back as they will get to live with their families. Otherwise, they were living like animals on the road and were being treated like animals.” He questioned, “Are they (migrant workers) not humans?”

Soren also informed that over 18000 to 20000 migrants have returned back to Jharkhand. Around 12 trains ferrying these labourers have arrived in Jharkhand so far.

He also claimed that all medical check-up regarding Covid-19 is being done for the workers. The migrants have been told to practice self quarantine for 15 to 20 days. The state will be providing food to them during this hour of crisis.

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