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4 Out of 10 Workers Have No Ration Even for the Day, 92.5% of Them Lost Work in Lockdown: Survey

File photo of migrant workers walking along a highway in Uttar Pradesh with family members to return to their village during a 21-day nationwide lockdown. (Reuters)

File photo of migrant workers walking along a highway in Uttar Pradesh with family members to return to their village during a 21-day nationwide lockdown. (Reuters)

The survey reveals that close to 50 per cent of the labourers who had taken debt fear that their inability to pay can put them in danger of some kind of violence.

A survey conducted by non-governmental organisation Jan Sahas, which included 3,196 migrant construction workers, revealed that 42 per cent of them have no ration left even for the day, let alone for the entire lockdown period.

The telephonic survey of workers from North and Central India also confirmed that 92.5 per cent of labourers have already lost work ranging from one week to three weeks.

At least 66 per cent of the labourers mentioned that if the lockdown continued beyond 21 days, they will not be able to manage their household expenses beyond a week.

One-third of the respondents said they “are still stuck in destination cities due to the lockdown with little or no access to food, water and money”. While nearly half the migrant labourers were already in their villages, they face different challenges such as no income and accessibility to rations.

A total of 31 per cent of workers admitted to "have taken loans and they will find it difficult to repay it without employment.” The highest proportions of the loans were from money-lenders, nearly three times more than those who have taken loans from banks. While more than 79 per cent of those who have loans, fear not being able to pay them back in the near future, “a disturbing fact is that close to 50 per cent of the labourers who had taken debt fear that their inability to pay can put them in danger of some kind of violence”.

On March 24, 2020, the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment issued a directive advising state governments and Union Territories to transfer funds to the accounts of construction labourers through DBT from the cess fund collected by the Labour Welfare Boards under the (Building and Other Construction Workers) BOCW Cess Act. The Survey finds that “94 per cent of the workers do not have the Building and Construction Workers identity card, which rules out the possibility of availing any of the benefits that the State has declared from its Rs 32,000 crore BOCW fund”.

The survey also found that 55 per cent of the workers earned between Rs 200-400 per day to support an average family size of four persons, while another 39 per cent earned between Rs 400-600 per day.