Government panel recommends legal framework to protect migrants

New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) Stating that the migrant population makes substantial contribution to economic growth and their constitutional rights need to be secured, a government appointed panel has recommended necessary legal and policy framework to protect their interests, an official statement said on Wednesday.

The “Working Group on Migration” set by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) in 2015, submitted, to the government, its report which recommends that the protocols of the Registrar General of India needs to be amended to enable caste based enumeration of migrants so that they can avail the attendant benefits in the states to which migration takes place.

It also recommended that migrants should be enabled to avail benefits of Public Distribution System (PDS) in the destination state by providing for inter-State operability of PDS.

Referring to constitutional right of freedom of movement and residence in any part of the territory of the country, the panel suggested that states should be encouraged to proactively eliminate the requirement of domicile status to prevent any discrimination in work and employment.

States are also to be asked to include migrant children in the annual work plans under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) to uphold their Right to Education.

Noting that money remittances of migrants was of the order of Rs 50,000 crore during 2007-08, the Working Group suggested that the vast network of post offices need to be made effective use of by reducing the cost of transfer of money to avoid informal remittences.

It also suggested that migrants should be enabled to open bank accounts by asking banks to adhere to RBI guidelines regarding Know Your Customer (KYC) norms and not insist on documents that were not required.

The Group suggested that the hugely underutilised Construction Workers Welfare Cess Fund should be used to promote rental housing, working women hostels etc., for the benefit of migrants.

Quoting data of Census 2011 and National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), the Group stated that migrants constitute about 30 per cent of the country’s population and also of the total working force.

The recent Economic Survey noted that annual migration in the country increased from 3.3 million in 2011 to 9 million in 2016.

Union Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu has asked the ministry officials to seek comments from all concerned ministries and take necessary action.

The 18-member working group headed by Partha Mukhopadhay of the Centre for Policy Research has representatives of ministries of Home, HUPA, Labour and Employment, Urban Development, Rural Development, Women and Child Development, Social Justice and Empowerment, and Statistics and Programme Implementation, the NITI Ayog, Registrar General of India, UNESCO, TATA Trust, Indian Institute for Human Settlements, and Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research as members.