India: NGO survey finds that up to 51 million migrant construction workers ineligible for gov’t relief fund, leaving many at risk of debt bondage

Author: Divya Trivedi, Frontline , Published on: 15 April 2020

“Survey finds 94 per cent of construction workers ineligible for funds transfer”, 08 April 2020

The … inadequate relief measures for migrant workers left stranded … by the COVID-19 lockdown was brought out starkly in a survey done by the non-governmental organisation Jan Sahas.

…. [T]he Jan Sahas survey…. found that 94 per cent of labourers did not have BOCW cards, making them ineligible for any transfer. Further, 14 per cent did not have ration cards and 17 per cent did not have bank accounts.

“If our dataset is representative of the 55 million labourers currently employed in the construction sector, then more than 51 million labourers will not have access to any benefits,” the NGO said….

As many as 51 per cent of those surveyed mentioned that they had loans and would find it difficult to repay them without employment…

… Jan Sahas suggested that one way to prevent … debt bondages … was to use the PM CARES Fund to grant income assistance to labourers …

Given the precarious condition of migrant workers and to mitigate their risk of indebtedness, the government should issue directives to waive off or reschedule loans from banks and Self Help Groups, the NGO suggested…

Not surprisingly, the majority of the migrants belonged to the Other Backward Classes … Scheduled Castes … Scheduled Tribes …

Read the full post here