- Centre says there was "no mechanism" to collect such data in districts
- The Labour Ministry put out a note clarifying on welfare measures
- There has been a huge backlash over response on migrant deaths
Facing opposition attacks for saying there is "no data" on migrant deaths in the coronavirus lockdown, the government today sought to clarify that there was "no mechanism" to collect such data in districts.
Officials said birth and death-related data is maintained at the municipal level according to parameters developed over several decades.
"No mechanism exists at the municipal level to collect data on the death of migrant workers in a given district. It is immature to raise questions on the stand taken by the Labour Ministry on this issue," sources said.
There has been a huge backlash over Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar's response to a question on migrant deaths and whether families had been compensated.
"No such data is maintained. Question does not arise in view of the above," the Minister told the Lok Sabha in a written reply, provoking anger and opposition criticism of a "callous" government.
"The Modi government does not know how many migrant labourers died and how many jobs were lost during the lockdown. If you haven't counted, have the deaths not taken place? It is sad that there has been no impact on the government. The world has seen their deaths. There is a Modi government which has no information," tweeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
Yesterday, the government said in another reply that the massive migrant exodus in the lockdown was triggered by "fake news" about the duration of the shutdown.
Today, the government went into damage control.
The Labour Ministry put out a note clarifying on welfare measures, including for migrant workers, during the Covid-19 crisis.
The government has taken "unprecedented measures" for labour welfare and employment generation across India during the Covid-19 pandemic, said the note, listing those steps.
To another question on migrant data in parliament, the government said "according to the economic survey 2016-17, the size of the migrant workforce can be estimated to be over 100 million in 2016 in absolute terms."
Of these, around 1 crore returned to their home states during the lockdown, said the ministry.