A group of migrant workers who returned to Bihar in Shramik Special trains during the lockdown. Firstpost travelled through the state to understand those issues faced by migrant workers that will play a critical role in voting patterns. This is the first report in a multi-part series. He speaks to this reporter surrounded by a crowd of villagers who are mostly migrant workers, those who returned to the village after the 24 March lockdown that was imposed — with less than five hours notice — to control the spread of COVID From April to August, over 83 lakh new households joined the NREGA labour force by getting job cards, taking the number of families under the scheme to an all-time high of Many villagers said that they got job cards but did not get any work afterwards. The Election Commission has enrolled 6. Until June , at least 32 lakh migrant workers had returned to Bihar. Since their return, the government mapped their skills for employment. The workers have no choice but to rely on NREGA for employment in their villages, given that they have lost their jobs due to the lockdown. People's Action for Employment Guarantee PAEG , an independent body working on NREGA since , tracked the progress of the Act in Bihar between July and August to provide some broad statistics from the NREGA Management Information System MIS , such as the number of households that have completed days of work, the number of households nearing completion of days of work, amount of funds left with states, a comparison between work demanded and employment provided for select states. PAEG noted that while the government claims to have provided employment to 34 lakh households — which is the highest in the last three years — only 2, households have completed a days of work so far. In comparison, 33, households in Madhya Pradesh and 27, households in Rajasthan have completed days of work. Except April, the number of households which were given employment up to August was at least 1. At least Of the 83 lakh job cards issued across India, So, I opened a small project and employed workers from the village. Why will a worker wait for five-six months for a paltry sum of money? This is not an isolated situation. This reporter travelled across eight districts to assess the ground situation and found that there was a deep disconnect between the state, the district and panchayat level officials, especially when it came to implementation of welfare schemes announced for the migrant workers during the crisis. A group of women - some are farmers and some are workers - in Kartahan Bujurg in Bihar's Vaishali district. The rest of the booklet, which is supposed to be a log of the jobs assigned and completed by the households, is empty. Beggars have a better life. Vaishali is one of the 32 districts in poll-bound Bihar where Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan on 20 June to provide employment to migrant labourers. The scheme was expected to provide some relief to migrant labourers who returned to their native states after having lost work. To give an estimate of the scale of the problem, as many as 24,19, labourers had returned from Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and many other states after the lockdown was imposed. Reports had indicated that 12 different departments and ministries were to work in a coordinated way to ensure employment opportunities to needy migrant labourers, as per their skill set. That was four months ago. The crowd comprises mainly young men between years of age. Part of a group of eight men, Chandan found himself jobless and penniless after the private contractor who employed them said there is no work, since a lockdown has been imposed.
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