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Coronavirus Lockdown 3.0: Still no migrant labourers data available with Chief Labour Commissioner, reveals RTI

Last Updated : 06 May 2020, 09:05 IST

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The office of the country's Chief Labour Commissioner (CLC) does not have data about migrant workers stranded due to COVID-19 lockdown despite an official survey was commissioned in early April with strict instructions to complete in three days, according to the response to a Right to Information (RTI) query.

Chief Labour Commissioner Rajan Verma had on April 8 written to heads of its 20 Regional Offices across the country to collect data on relief camps and migrant workers district-wise and state-wise within three days. Day-to-day progress should be intimated to him, the letter stated.

However, the Chief Public Information Officer of the office of CLC responded on Tuesday to an RTI filed by transparency activist Venkatesh Nayak, "as per the stat (statistics) section is concerned, no such details are available based on requisite information."

Tens of thousands of migrant labourers were stuck in their workplace in cities and towns across the country with several facing income-loss and job-loss as economic activities came to a standstill due to lockdown.

Based on the April 8 letter by the CLC, Nayak had sought details through an RTI application on April 21 on the number of migrant workers, including women who were stranded, occupation-wise data as well as sector-wise numbers.

In his letter to regional heads, Verma had said that a huge number of migrant workers were impacted due to the lockdown and a comprehensive data was "urgently required within three days".

Emphasising the urgency in collecting data, Verma told the regional heads that besides officials under them, they could also take assistance from local units of Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC).

"The CLC CPIO's cryptic one-liner reply raises serious doubts about the availability of data about migrant workers despite the launching of the enumeration exercise. Does the CLC or any other public authority in government have accurate data about the number of stranded migrant workers or is there any reason why it does not want to make such information public?" asked Nayak, who is associated with the NGO Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).

Nayak said there was no indication whether his RTI would be transferred to any other section or public authority, which should be done if the information is not available. It is also not clear whether there any effort would be made to collate the information from the enumeration exercise and make it publicly available.

Being aware of the possibility that the CLC's office would not be fully functional, he said he did not seek copies of official records and instead requested the authorities to upload the information in its website and provide him with the web link.

"Given the widespread debate about the plight of migrant workers and the yeomen service provided by several government agencies, hundreds of NGOs and thousands concerned citizens to ensure that many of them were served food, water and other essentials, this information I believed has an enormous public interest dimension attached to it," he said.

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Published 06 May 2020, 07:28 IST

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