NEW DELHI: NITI Aayog's CEO Amitabh Kant said that the government, both Centre and states, could have done a better job in taking care of ever single migrant worker. He said that although the coronavirus-induced lockdown was successful in controlling the COVID-19 outbreak, the migrants crisis was not dealt with properly.
"It is important to understand that migrants issue was a challenge because over the years, we have created laws which have led to a huge amount of informal workers in economy," Kant said to a leading channel in an interview on Friday.
"This was the responsibility of the state governments to ensure that the workers were well taken care of. In a vast country like India, federal government has a limited role. This was a challenge where I think we could have done a much, much better job of taking care of every single worker at the state, local, district level," the government's think tank CEO said.
Lakhs of migrant workers were also left jobless and homeless due to the pandemic, especially after the lockdown came into effect on March 25. While special trains and buses have been arranged for them in the recent weeks and continue to operate to help them reach their native places, thousands of them had to walk or even hide in trucks and containers to reach their destinations.
According to media reports, over 100 migrants have died in multiple locations due to various reasons while going back to their native places.
Meanwhile, chairman of Empowered Group One and Niti Aayog member V K Paul on Friday said the lockdown, which is about to complete two months, cannot go on indefinitely and it has achieved its purpose by giving the nation enough time to ramp up the health infrastructure and raise awareness about the coronavirus pandemic.
Paul said a large number of deaths were averted due to lockdown, which put a brake on the spread of the virus. "It cannot continue for an unlimited time and life has to return to normal as livelihoods have been affected," he said, stressing it''s important to exhibit a behaviour that creates difficulties for the virus.
"Now we know what can save us, we need to be vigilant and respond accordingly," he added.
The government has formed 11 empowered groups to suggest measures to ramp up healthcare, put the economy back on track and reduce misery of people once the lockdown is lifted. The government imposed a lockdown on March 25 and it is currently in its fourth phase which will end on May 17.
India’s total count of COVID-19 cases rose to 1,25,101, including 3,720 deaths, on Saturday, according to the union ministry's update. In the last 24 hours, the country reported 6,654 cases and 137 deaths.