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Furnish details of unorganised workers to Centre, SC tells States- Mrit News

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Plea seeks food security, cash transfers for migrant workers who went back to their villages during lockdown

Plea seeks food security, cash transfers for migrant workers who went back to their villages during lockdown

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the States and Union Territories to furnish particulars of unorganised and migrant workers to the Centre. The court said a further order could be passed based on these details to protect the interests of workers in a case filed by activists Anjali Bharadwaj, Harsh Mander and Jagdeep Chhokar. The activists moved the apex court seeking directions to ensure food security, cash transfers and other welfare measures for migrant workers who went back to their villages during COVID-19 lockdown. The next hearing is on July 20.

The Centre, citing the registration of workers on the recently launched e-shram portal to compile the data of workers, told the Supreme Court that approximately 27.45 crore unorganised labourers or migrant workers have registered their details on the website. “Now our endeavour should be to consider the larger issue of protecting the interests of the unorganised labourers/migrant workers. The Central government should file a composite report in compliance with all the directions issued by this court in the order dated June 29, 2021. All States shall cooperate and submit all the particulars which are called for,” a Bench comprising Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna said.

Centre seeks time

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, told the court that the portal had been developed in consultation with the NIC for registration of workers. “She has stated that approximately 27.45 crore workers have been registered on the portal on the basis of the information given by States. How the Centre and States are going to take advantage and/or the benefit of the registration of the unorganised labourers/migrant workers to protect their interests? One of the objectives of the registration is to ensure that the benevolent schemes declared by the governments reach the unorganised labourers/migrant workers,” the Bench noted. The Centre sought some time to place on record the compliance report.

As of now, the Union Labour Ministry has issued 27,67,60,939 e-shram cards to workers. The process of registering workers was started after the Supreme Court’s direction to keep proper data of the migrant workers. According to a deposition by the Ministry to the parliamentary standing committee on labour, about 1,08,37,740 migrant workers returned to their villages since the beginning of the lockdown till July 2020. The data said more than 32 lakh workers returned to Uttar Pradesh, followed by large number of exodus to Bihar, West Bengal and Rajasthan. On e-shram, Haryana registered more than eight lakh workers, followed by Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand.

Transparency sought

The Labour panel had said that the absence of reliable and authentic data on the numbers of migrant workforce and their movement back to their home States following the outbreak of the pandemic had impacted the relief and rehabilitation measures. “There has also been a need for enhanced transparency in the modalities involved in the distribution of relief material to migrant labour and prescription of an element of audit both at the department level and social audit by the stakeholders. In short, since without identification and collation of data of the inter-State migrant workers no social security scheme can be effectively be extended to them,” the panel said, and asked the Ministry to persuade the native as well as the destination States to identify, collect and periodically update the record of such workers.

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