Chhattisgarh: CM Bhupesh Baghel assures to consider the recommendations of citizens’ jury on migrant labour issues

Raipur: The 'Janta Ka Faisla' event organized under the joint aegis of National Foundation for India, Socratus and Chaupal at St. Joseph Cathedral Church, Byron Bazar for four days, concluded on Thursday.

Representatives of the migrant workers handed over a copy of their verdict to the honourable Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel at his official residence on Thursday. The CM gave them an assurance that he will give the verdict due consideration. The CM said that the initiative was a very positive step, a press release said.

The CM spoke to the jury members about the steps taken by the government about the welfare of migrant labourers. The CM informed about the large scale distribution of land titles and said that the government wants the distress migration of labourers to stop.

Seventeen jury members were selected with due diligence and transparency from over 2 lakh migrant workers to pronounce judgement on various issues and concerns of migrant labourers. The jury reflected on various policy recommendations and initiatives aimed at the wellbeing of the migrant labourer community over the last four days. The intensive process equipped the jury members with knowledge of existing policies and labour laws, and gave direction and hope about possible changes.

Open-ended discussions and group meetings among members of the jury, with the support of 'Friends of the Jury,' helped them break down complex issues around their employment conditions, livelihood in the source state, portability of schemes and entitlements and their electoral participation.

Jury members revisited the definition of migrant labourers to distinguish between willing migrants and those compelled to migrate because of economic distress. The jury unanimously demanded that they do not want to migrate again and asked for sustainable livelihoods in Chhattisgarh.

To prevent distress migration, the government should increase employment opportunities in Chhattisgarh and give rights to the local people over the natural resources of the state - water, forest, and land, along with providing basic facilities to all.

On behalf of every migrant labourer, this jury announced the verdict. The crucial points of the decision are as follows:

-Everyone should have rights over the state's natural resources – water, forest, and land.

-Villages should be given rights over community forests.

-Under MNREGA, everyone should get employment from 150 to 200 days, so that migration will be reduced.

-In forest produce, tendu, bamboo, and mahua should be encouraged for industrial-level production.

-Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana for landless migrant laborers should be implemented. Keeping in mind the workers who are migrating due to distress.

-All migrant laborers should have life insurance cover and others.

The jury emphasized that, as citizens of India, migrant labourers have the right to live with dignity, respect, and equality.

Before pronouncing its judgement, Jury heard the arguments and views from representatives of samaaj, sarkar and bazaar. These views include Minister of Rural & Panchayat Development TS Singh Deo, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Amarjeet Bhagat, Chief Minister’s advisor Pradip Sharma, Chief Minister’s advisor Rajesh Tiwari, Chhattisgarh’s Labour Commissioner Alex Paul Menon, Sudhir Katiyar (Centre for Labour Research and Action), Pramathesh Ambasta (BRLF), Rajesh Upadhyay (Jan Sahas), Mohan Bhai (Mendha Lekha), Amitabh Behar (Oxfam India) and others. On the last day of the programme Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel’s media advisor Ruchir Garg also attended the programme.

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