Migrant worker stories have almost disappeared from the newspapers. Governments are preoccupied with either containing the spread of COVID-19 or re-opening the economy. Sadly, the millions of migrant labourers who were forced to head towards their homes since March 24 are still looking for support. Some got MGNREGS jobs in their villages, but most of them are unemployed after spending time in quarantine centres. They live on paltry ration in unhygienic conditions. The fact that containing the virus and resuming production are both connected with the migrants is not sufficiently understood.
Their poor living conditions and unsafe transportation made them victims of COVID-19 and its carriers, further spreading it to towns and villages which are now seeing a surge in cases. Let us remember that migrant workers are the key element in the construction sector and industries, especially the small and medium industries. Hence, the need to appreciate a few facts and design a policy that goes beyond giving relief for a few months as charity. Migrant workers have rights as citizens, and are major drivers of the economy.
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