Over 70% of migrant workers stayed put in hometowns fearing contracting Covid-19, finds survey

Express News Service
NEW DELHI: There has been a change in migration pattern since last year, according to a survey of workers in the informal sector by Migrants Resilience Collaborative — a joint initiative of Jan Sahas, Edelgive Foundation and Global Development Incubator.

As a part of the second part of the report Voices of the Invisible Citizens, 2,342 workers across five states were interviewed over the course of the last year.

Over 55 per cent respondents reported a decrease in migration in the past year. While over 70 per cent of the workers said they did not migrate for fear of contracting Covid-19, 54 per cent workers said there was a lack of job opportunities at the destination.

Over 45 per cent workers feared ‘sudden lockdowns’. Around 55 per cent of the migrant workers who ventured out reported that they were now moving for a shorter duration as compared to before.

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Workers in source villages and destination areas like construction sites, labour chowks/nakas, community settlements and textile clusters were interviewed.

Over 70 per cent of respondents reported that it had become harder to secure jobs in the past year, leading to a drastic reduction in their monthly income. 

Forty per cent reported that the wage rates had remained the same over the last year, while 36 per cent reported a decrease in the wage rates. 

Around 60 per cent respondents reported that fewer women are migrating now as compared to the pre-pandemic time.

Lack of employment at destination or source, mounting debt, a dip in female labour participation were indicators of distress, it said.

While featuring examples of how states and industry have responded to protect migrant workers, the report pointed out the Delhi government’s campaign for registration under the Building and Construction Workers Act (BOCW) ensured over 1.05 lakh workers getting registered under the board. 

Chhattisgarh was one of the most successful states in terms of Public Distribution System (PDS) coverage with over 97.8 per cent respondents of the survey reporting that they had received free or subsidised ration during the lockdown, it said.