Wed, 26 Jan 2022

New Delhi [India], January 13 (ANI): In view of the prevailing pandemic situation arising out of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Sunil Barthwal, Secretary of Ministry of Labour and Employment chaired a virtual coordination meeting with states and union territories to take stock of the preparedness in respect of workers in general and migrant workers in particular.

As per the press release issued by the ministry, the Additional Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, Secretaries of State Labour Departments and Labour Commissioners of all states and union territories and officers of Ministry of Railway and Department of Food and Public Distribution participated in the meeting.

In the meeting, the state governments informed that barring night curfews and weekend curfews at a few places in some states, UTs where the number of COVID-19 cases is rising, there were no restrictions on construction activities, business activities, running of shops and industrial activities in the country.

So far, there is no report of unusual movement of migrant workers at present owing to the limited restrictions imposed by the Governments. Some media reports of mass exodus regarding the movement of migrant workers to their home States were found to be untrue, the state governments informed.

It was also noticed that such reporting was based on old photographs and the business situation is normal throughout the country except for 50 per cent restrictions on the workforce at some places, they said.

The Central as well as the State governments are keeping a close watch on the situation and fully ready and prepared to tackle the situation as per the demand of the situation. Some State Governments have already made plans for distributing dry rations to the needy labourers if required.

Some have made preparations to provide financial assistance from the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) cess fund and Social Security fund available with the States, the release further read.

It also informed that the railways are also keeping a very close watch on the situation particularly at the major railway stations like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Secunderabad etc. and ready to provide special trains in case the situation demands.

State Labour Commissioners confirmed that the functioning at construction sites, factories and establishments has remained undisrupted and there is no exodus of workers, especially migrant workers, back to their home states.

Both the labour supplying states and the labour receiving states were advised by the Secretary to work in close coordination to tackle any migrant workers' situation if the need arises, it said.

It was also pointed out by the Secretary that over 21 crore unorganised workers have registered themselves on e-Shram Portal.

All the state governments were requested to put in place a mechanism to maintain a record of the migrant workers and register all the remaining workers who have not registered themselves on the the e-Shram Portal as yet. This will facilitate the State Governments to plan and deliver financial and other benefits to them at the appropriate times, it added.

"A total of 21 monitoring centres have been activated across the country by Office of Chief Labour Commissioner (Central). Toll-free helplines have been opened by the States," it said.

The Director of the Department of Food and Public Distribution informed that there is no unusual spurt seen under the One Nation One Ration Card as far as ration pick up is concerned.

The States and Union Territories were also requested to maintain records of returnee migrant workers if any. The States have also been asked to be wary of rumour-mongering on exodus and take quick steps to counter such rumours. They were advised to reassure migrant workers regarding their safety, security and livelihood. (ANI)

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