After centre’s push, states explore ways to house migrants better – ET RealEstate

NEW DELHI: States have started working on new industrial policies with detailed plans for labour welfare, particularly with regard to housing of migrant workers in industrial clusters, in line with an advisory from the Centre.

Gujarat’s new industrial policy launched on Saturday talks about dormitory housing for migrant workers near industrial zones under state and central urban housing schemes, while some others including Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are working on similar policies, people aware of the development told ET.

Making provision for dormitories for labourers in industry clusters is in line with the central government’s housing policy, said M K Das, additional chief secretary, industries and mines, in Gujarat.

“It is necessary to provide a strong enabling ecosystem which will support in increasing the productivity and quality,” he told ET. “This scheme will be encouraged by inclusion of this facility under common infrastructure to extend financial assistance.”

As per the new industrial policy, special incentives will be provided to associations to construct such dormitory housing in industrial clusters. “It will be encouraged by inclusion of this facility under common infrastructure to extend financial assistance,” the new policy said. “However. such association shall have to first avail incentives available under different schemes of state government or central government.”

Nearly three million migrant workers had left Gujarat during the first two phases of Covid-19 lockdown. Many such workers have started returning as industrial activities are picking up.

The Centre had in the first week of August written to all states, specifically asking them to include labour welfare measures in their investments and industrial policies, or at least have a plan in place, labour ministry officials told ET.

The 18-point advisory detailed steps to provide “improved living conditions to workers coming back from states” by ensuring “decent working conditions, occupational safety and social security benefits”.

The advisory also detailed steps states have to take to conduct a vulnerability mapping of migrant workers and enrol the names of workers and their families in the Centre’s flagship health and housing schemes.

States were asked to specifically send a list of those migrant workers who are not registered in any of the government’s welfare schemes to the labour commissioner, and follow up their enrolment process.

The government has asked “both the origin and destination states” of migrant workers to ensure the enrolment of eligible migrant workers in Ayushman Bharat scheme and insurance schemes provided by the Centre. It has also asked states to “encourage employers to follow all laws when dealing with the workers, particularly with regard to their wages, living conditions and safety”.

Earlier, at least 10 states had relaxed labour laws, drawing criticism from many labour experts.

Gaurav Gupta, Karnataka Principal Secretary, Commerce & Industries Department said the State has already started thinking about possible ways to explore housing options for migrant workers in the State.

“At the request of the major companies employing large number of workers, we are working on a sustainable solution. Some builders working in the area of affordable housing have agreed and are now actively working at workers’ housing, and we are have interacting with both buyers and sellers to make it possible.”

KR Shyam Sunder, professor of human resources at business school XLRI Jamshedpur, said states must think beyond symbolism and have a perceptive law in place that looks at all aspects of migration.

“State governments are being told to introduce labour flexibility measures but there is no national policy on migration,” he said. “The national commission on rural labour in 1992 had hinted at the formulation of a national policy on migrant workers, but there has been no work on that. That should be in consonance with the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions.”

Sunder said existing laws provide for housing for inter-state migrant workers.

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