More labourers opt to stay put as industry resumes operations in Punjab - ECAS Punjab

More labourers opt to stay put as industry resumes operations in Punjab

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Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, May 20

As economic activity in the state resumes, the high attrition rate among the labourers opting for reverse migration is giving hope for oiling the wheels of the industry that came to a grinding halt because of the lockdown.

25,000 leave in 20 trains

Official data shows that dropout rate in reverse migration is increasing. As against 30,000 migrants leaving the state on Monday in 25 special trains, nearly 25,000 left on Wednesday in 20 trains. Officials said this was because of resumption of economic activity.

Across different parts of the state, the government authorities are reporting that at least 30-40 per cent of those who had registered to board the Shramik Special trains have failed to turn up for the journey back home. This shows that the "hustle and bustle" in the unorganised sector of the economy has begun.

Official data shows that dropout in reverse migration is increasing since Monday. As against 30,000 migrants leaving the state on Monday in 25 special trains, nearly 25,000 left today in 20 trains. Till date, almost 240 trains have taken the migrants to states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, said Vikas Pratap, state nodal officer for the Railways. He said given the size of the state, they had managed to do rather well in arranging a safe passage for the stranded migrants. Government officials maintain that the attrition is because of resumption of economic activity, especially in Ludhiana (industrial production) and Mohali (construction and industrial).

Since May 4, when the industry reopened to limited production, many workers are being summoned to work. Gautam Dhall, an auto and tractor parts manufacturer in Ludhiana, who employs 2,000 persons in his unit, said they resumed operations on May 4 with 30 per cent of the staff. "I am now working with 50 per cent staff and many workers are expressing their desire to return to work. They realised that there is no economic activity back home and prefer to work here," he says. Girish Dayalan, Deputy Commissioner, Mohali, says the higher dropout rate in migrants, which in his district have gone up to 40 per cent, is a positive development. "Initially, 5,000 migrants were registering for one train, having a capacity of 1,188. We have already dispatched 12 trains to other states. Till a few days ago, there was an attrition rate of 30 per cent. Since the past two-three days, against the total capacity of trains, 100-150 seats are vacant because of the dropouts," he said.

Meanwhile, in containment zones, migrants are still desperate to return to their native places. Even as industrialists are offering them bonuses and other incentives to stay back, they are unwilling to stay put. Arvinder Singh, MD, Laal Quila Rice Mill in Amritsar, said: "I do not know how the industry will function. The migrant exodus is worse than the lockdown. The manufacturing sector could have seen immediate resurgence post curfew, but the exodus will hit us hard and for a long time."



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