NEW DELHI: The choice of 116 districts under the Garib Kalyan Rozgar Abhiyaan--a new job scheme to help migrant labourers hit by the lockdown-- suggests that Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are the worst affected states due to reverse migration. Data, released by the Centre last week, shows that 63 of the total districts spread across these two states account for 41 lakh of the 67 lakh migrant labourers across six states mapped for the programme.
The 116 districts chosen by the Centre, for the programme, have witnessed more than 25,000 migrant workers returning. Of the 38 districts in Bihar, 32 have been selected, while in Uttar Pradesh, 31 of the 75 districts have been hit.
Reverse migration of labourers in Bihar will have political implications as the state is scheduled for assembly elections in October-November.
"There is no doubt the Bihar is one of the worst affected states because of reverse migration and during our discussion with these migrants it is clear that most of them do not want to return to other states at least for some time. So providing employment to these people is of immediate concern. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has also told PM Modi that the state will need help from the union government," said a senior cabinet minister in Bihar government.
The scheme, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, aims to provide jobs to workers in rural areas which have seen reverse migration. The four other states under the scheme are Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Odisha.
According to the details of 116 districts, Bihar tops the list with 23.6 lakh returnees and Uttar Pradesh follows with 17.5 lakh migrant labourers who returned.
Local administrations will have to grapple with the twin burden of unemployment and resource burden. Three of the top districts with highest returnee population were – Siddharthnagar from Uttar Pradesh with 1.6 lakh returnees as well as East Champaran and Katihar from Bihar with over 1.5 lakh and 1.4 lakh returnees respectively.
The Centre has prioritised states and districts with high number of returnee migrants. Out of the 116 districts chosen, 15 had more than 1 lakh returnees each, 38 districts saw returnees in the range of 50,000 to 1 lakh each, while 63 districts saw less than 50,000 and more than 25,000 returnees each.
The scheme, which will run for 125 days and has a resource envelope of ₹50,000 crore, has run into political crosshairs. Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel has written to Modi expressing "despair" among people of the state over exclusion from the scheme. Baghel has urged Modi that inclusion of Chhatisgarh would help provide employment to migrants who have returned.