Nearly 5 percent of 7.30 lakh migrant labourers have got jobs and the biggest employers of these 35,000 odd labourers are village panchayats, not the private sector, shows Madhya Pradesh government’s data.
The state government launched ‘Rozgar Setu’ web portal on June 10 to bring the migrant labourers and employers/job providers on a common platform so that the latter could choose the workforce as per their requirement, the announcement made in June stated.
The state witnessed the return of 13.10 lakh migrant labourers and their family members from other states since March 24 when lockdown restrictions were imposed across the country given the Covid-19 situation. Of them, 7.30 lakh are labourers and remaining are their family members, as per the state government’s data.
Of these 7.30 lakh migrant labourers, who include skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labourers, 35,361 workers are shown on the government portal as of Wednesday to have received employment through various employers/job providers. But, interestingly, while private players have shown little interest in the government’s initiative, as many as 27,908 of the labourers who account for as many as 79% of 35,361 labourers have been given jobs by village panchayats as per the state government’s data.
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As per Rural development and panchayat raj department officials, the panchayats in the state don’t have many jobs to offer, that too regularly to any person, except the job ensured for 100 days under MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act).
As per the data, only 69 labourers have got jobs in heavy industries and less than 600 in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). After village panchayats, the second-best employers are contractors who have provided jobs to 2,700 while more than 550 got jobs through placement agencies. Builders have provided jobs to about 150 labourers, suppliers to 97 and commercial establishments have employed 67 labourers.
In an open letter to employers on July 4, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, “Rozgar setu portal has a database of all the migrant labourers after their skill mapping. More than 24,000 employers/job providers have got themselves registered who include those from heavy industries, MSMEs, builders, placement agencies, commercial establishments etc to provide jobs of permanent nature to the labourers for which I am grateful.”
However, industries hardly showed any significant interest in the CM’s appeal. Chhindwara district tops the list in facilitating jobs through village panchayats to labourers. About 5,000 labourers have got jobs at the panchayat level, as per the data.
Collector of Chhindwara, Saurav Kumar Suman said, “We have certain works other than those offered under MNREGA too, like works related to 226 anganwadi centres, panchayat buildings, mines etc., besides work offered by central government agencies like BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd), NHAI (National Highway Authority of India) etc. They engage labourers as per their need.”
However, right to food activist Sachin Jain said, “The state government’s claim of providing jobs through village panchayats is misleading. There is hardly any significant work left after MNREGA at the villages. The fact is that the state government can’t provide or facilitate jobs to labourers overnight particularly because hardly any sincere effort was made in the past on the part of the government to create jobs in the state.”
Yusuf Baig, a social activist from Panna district said, “I don’t see any work at the village level other than MNREGA provided to the labourers. Even MNREGA hardly fulfils their need. A family is supposed to get only 100 days a year job under MNREGA. If a family has four members then each of the members will get just 25 days job.”
Mohd Makbool Ali, 53, a migrant labourer from village Mahtara under janpad panchayat Gohparu in Shahdol district got himself enrolled on the portal about a month. “Nobody has contacted me so far for any work. Even otherwise, I don’t see any work here. I will return to Mumbai the moment situation becomes normal over there,” he said.
Another migrant labourer Rahul Kumar, 22, a resident of village Marpura under janpad panchayat Lahar in Bhind district was engaged with a security agency in Gurugram and echoed similar sentiments.
He said, “It has been about a month now since I have been waiting for any response. I am planning to return to Gurugram.”
On poor response to labourers from industries, president of the Association of Industries, Indore Pramod Daharia said, “Any industry will like to engage any labourer if it doesn’t have its trusted employees who are already engaged. There is a mutual understanding between the two sides and both understand each other’s needs. Secondly, after the lockdown, the industries are not running with their full capacity. Hence, they don’t need any labourer from outside.”
President of Peethampur Audyogik Sangthan Gautam Kothari spoke in a similar vein. He said, “The industrialists prefer their own workforce. They are making phone calls to their workers and getting them back by arranging their transport. None of the industrialists would like to disturb its well-established system until unless there is some emergency or real shortage of workforce due to their employees stuck in other parts of the country.”
Additional chief secretary (ACS), labour department, Rajesh Rajora said, “There are a good number of contractors who have provided jobs to labourers. We are making an all-out effort to facilitate as many jobs to labourers as possible.”