The station in the state of Goa has become tricky following more than 80 thousand migrants registering themselves to go back home, but now state Government wants them to stay back. According to the reports, Chief Minister Mr Pramod Sawant urged the migrants not to leave Goa while GCCI has urged the state government to convince Migrants to stay back, now the question is what stand migrants will take at this juncture and if the government will be able to convince them to stay back.
Goa is dependant on the migrant labourers for all its major tasks, especially the menial work, and if migrants leave the state in such large numbers, Goa will have a very big challenge to face in front of them.
The Coronavirus Crises
Following the Coronavirus crises, the whole world comes to standstill and people from across the world started returning back to their countries (this is another big subject that we will see in another piece of article). Same applied to the local migrants after the government opened the online registration for the migrants desirable to leave for their hometown, the state received an unexpected response with more than 80 thousand migrants registering themselves for the return journey.
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Migrants in Goa
According to the reports published in TOI, there are around 3.5 lakhs migrants living at the moment in Goa and more than 80,000 had registered themselves to go back home. “Due to the extended lockdown that has left many of them unemployed and apprehensive, migrants residing in Goa are now showing signs of restlessness and are eager to return to home as quickly as possible,” said the sources in Goa Police.
“Even though the government has introduced an online facility for registering migrant workers to facilitate their return home, many of them are restless as they want to leave quickly,” said deputy superintendent of police Edwin Colaco adding that with the Centre easing restrictions and allowing people stranded in different parts of the country to return to their native places, most of the migrant labourers who had made Goa their home now wish to go back.
It looks like the situation is going to get out of hands with every day passing by, the migrants are becoming restless, “Such messages create a sense of panic among migrant labourers, and in an effort not to miss the opportunity to return home in these troubled, some migrants have even made abortive bids to leave the state, sometimes by undertaking journeys on foot to far-flung railway stations to board a train,” Colaco said.
Industry Scenario in the state
Meanwhile, the GCCI ( Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry) had appealed the Government to convince migrants to stay back. According to the reports, many migrant labourers in the state are desperate to go back to their native states in view of the nationwide lockdown imposed due to COVID-19, and the state government is making arrangements to transport them, the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) on Tuesday urged the government to put in place some counselling measures so as to see if migrants holding jobs can be convinced to stay back.
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The GCCI also made out a point that unchecked departure of migrant workers from the state will have an adverse impact on some of the local industries and the construction and agriculture sectors. In a memorandum submitted to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, the GCCI has said that if the migrant workers go to their home states now, the return of these workers may take a long time thus affecting the functioning of many Goan industries.
According to the GCCI, many of the migrant workers have been provided with shelter, food and wages during the entire period of lockdown and they are not really stranded in the true sense of the word. “Now that they (migrant workers) are getting a free ride to their home states, many have left their employers high and dry,” alleges the memorandum made to the Chief Minister.
The GGCI also made a point that in case if there are genuine stranded migrants in the state with no job, food and shelter then they can return back to their native places and thus screening is mandatory to separate the stranded labourers from those who have jobs. “No doubt, if any migrant worker is really stranded with no job and shelter or any means of livelihood in Goa and wants to go back to his home state, no one should prevent him from doing so,” argued GCCI in the memorandum signed by president Manoj Caculo.
Free Ride Home is the main Reason
According to another report, the free ride home is another reason why such a huge amount of migrants have registered themselves online. This move has caused posing a threat to the Construction and Real Estate Industry in the state. According to the real estate developers, they have taken very good care of the migrants during the lockdown period and now since they are getting a free ride home, they want to take the advantage of the situation.
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According to the CREDAI Goa Chapter president Nilesh Salkar, if there is no labour, work will slow down. “We have no option but slow down as almost all the labourers who work in the real estate sector are migrants. However, there are certain numbers of people who are second or third generation labourers who have been residing in Goa since their birth and they are likely to stay back and not move. The problem is that these migrant workers travel in a group and have mob psychology,” Salkar said.
Amit Chopra, president of the Goa Association of Realtors (GAR), believes that labour is the backbone of the real estate industry and if there is no labour then work slows down and the market will be affected. “One cannot stop anyone if they want to go back. Activities will be slow and it will take a minimum of five to six months to recover. The previous two years have been really bad for the real estate market and now with this COVID-19 lockdown and migrant labourers moving, it will slow down further. However, the rates will not go down as it is already in rock bottom,” Chopra said.
Mr Chopra also feels that if the migrants leave the state in such large numbers then it will create a demand-supply situation which will lead to demand for the increase wages of labourers. “In Goa, all these labourers were treated well as compared to other places. However, we are worried too as those who stay back will charge more. Also, note the travel is free but if they come back they will have to pay whenever the public transportation system is restored to normalcy and it may not happen before the last quarter of the year or so. At least 60-70 per cent further slowdown will be there in this industry now,” Chopra feared.
Although COVID-19 had lead to such a situation one thing cannot remain unnoticed and that is the dependency of the state on migrants and if that remains then sooner or later we will have to pay the price. There is no doubt that any state of the country needs migrants to take up some part of work which is inevitable but complete dependency on them for all the menial work may not be a good idea and this the high time that everyone needs to take it seriously. What are your views on this?