According to the Centre, there is no data available or recorded about the number of migrant workers who lost their lives during the nationwide lockdown restrictions which lasted for 68 days. The lockdown was enforced from March 25, in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, the Union labour ministry informed the Parliament on Monday.
This written response by the government in Lok Sabha on the first day of monsoon session fueled criticism from the opposition. The ministry also admitted that more than 1 crore migrants went back to their respective home states from all across the country.
During the session, the ministry was asked if the government has maintained any data on migrant workers who returned to their states amid the lockdown restrictions along with a number of migrant workers lost their lives during the return and the details if any. This was followed with questions related to economic assistance or compensation given to those who lost their family members.
The Union labour minister, Santosh Kumar Gangwar in a written response said, “No such data is maintained. Question does not arise in view of the above”. It also said that there is no data available on the job losses among migrant workers since the pandemic.
“In order to mitigate the financial crisis of the migrant workers and protect them against the economic disruptions due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and nationwide lockdown, the Central Government has taken numerous measures to provide them financial assistance, food packages ration and other benefits,” the Labour Ministry added.
Rahul Gandhi, Congress leader tweeted in the rage of the matter and said, “The Modi government does not know how many migrant labourers died and how many jobs were lost during the lockdown. If you haven’t counted, have the deaths not taken place? It is sad that there has been no impact on the government. The world has seen their deaths. Then there is the Modi government which has no information.”
Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac tweeted about the matter and claimed that the Centre should acknowledge tentative and incomplete data of rail Shramik Trains and road accidents.