Nearly Rs. 3,200 crore in wages were paid to workers in the unorganized sector during the lockdown, bringing much-needed relief to workers.
Vipul Mittra, additional chief secretary, Labour and Employment department, Gujarat, said that the department undertook a massive outreach exercise to reach out to thousands of employers and to ensure payment of full wages to workers. “Our officials reached out to thousands of factories, commercial establishments, and shops through phone, Email, WhatsApp, and SMS, and asked them to pay wages in full and on time to their workers. We also launched helplines where workers could register their wage-related complaints. The proactive approach resulted in workers being paid more than Rs. 3,183 crore in wages by their employers during the lockdown,” said Mittra.
The state government also came to the rescue of workers looking to return to their home states by arranging for Shramik special trains. More than 14.64 lakh migrant workers left from Gujarat onboard 1,006 special trains.
“The highest number of Shramik special trains departed from Gujarat. This was a massive exercise and involved coordinating with the receiving states, registering the workers, making arrangements to get them to railway stations, conducting their health checkups, providing food to them, etc. but we managed to do so in a smooth manner,” said Mittra, who was appointed as the nodal officer for the transport of workers, students, pilgrims, tourists, and other stranded persons on special trains. Trains were run to multiple states including UP, which accounted for more than half of the trains, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and other places.
The Labour and Employment department deputed senior officials such as Director of Training and Employment, Labour Director, and Director of Industrial Safety and Health in Surat, home to more than half of the total migrant workers in the state.
Mittra said that thousands of migrant workers from the neighbouring states of MP, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra, who were housed in shelter homes set up by the government were ferried to their native states in special buses.
“As many as 236 shelter homes were set up in the state for migrant workers. Arrangements for their stay, meals, as well as healthcare services were made for them. A special team from the central government had visited a shelter home in Kathwada, and lauded the arrangements that were made for them by the state government,” he said further.
Mittra also informed that financial assistance of Rs. 1000 was transferred to the bank accounts of 6.38 lakh construction workers through the Public Financial Management System as a part of the Mukhya Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.
Food basket, comprising wheat, rice, pulses, sugar, salt, etc. were distributed free of cost to 6.36 lakh migrant workers under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Package. Mittra added that the 34 Dhanvantari Raths operated by Gujarat Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board had provided OPD medical services to as many as 21.82 lakh people.
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