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“Migrant Crisis Could Have Been Handled Much Better”: NITI Aayog CEO

Owing to the pressure from the opposition, the central government on May 1 had announced “Shramik Trains” for migrant workers to ferry them home.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NITI Aayoga, Amitabh Kant, said on Friday the country could have done “much better” in the handling of the migrant crisis raised due to the imposition of nation-wide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, NDTV reported. However, he blamed the state governments and not the centre for the crisis.

“It is important to understand that migrants issue was a challenge because, over the years, we have created laws which have led to a huge amount of informal workers in the economy,” Kant said adding, “This was the responsibility of the state governments to ensure that the workers were well taken care of. In a vast country like India, the federal government has a limited role. This was a challenge where I think we could have done a much, much better job of taking care of every single worker at the state, local, district level.”

An exodus like situation erupted after the central government announced a nation-wide lockdown on 25 March. Thousands of migrant workers started returning back to their home towns by walking on the streets or getting into private vehicles. Many died of illness or accidents on their way back home.

Owing to the pressure from the opposition, the central government on May 1 had announced “Shramik Trains” for migrant workers to ferry them home. However, the shramik or special trains have not stopped the exodus of migrants walking back to their towns.

Prime Minister Modi announced an economic stimulus of 20 lakh crore to revive the economy that has taken a hit due to covid-19. It also included measures to aid the migrant workers returning back to their home towns. However, many criticized the package as inadequate and deceiving in its fiscal impact.

Earlier on 22 May, 22 opposition parties met through video conferencing and demanded free travel for migrant workers. Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who headed the meeting, said, “The defining image of the pandemic has been the lakhs of migrant workers, many with children, walking hundreds of kilometres, without money, food or medicines, desperate to reach their home states.”

By Saturday morning, India had 1,25,101 cases of Covid-19 with 3,720 deaths due to the infectious virus.

 

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