Chhattisgarh govt faces heat after organising citizens’ jury for migrant labourers

Raipur: On the second day of public consultation programme ‘Janta ka Faisla’ dedicated to the serve the interest of migrant labourers started at the Pastoral Centre Hall, Byron Bazar, Raipur on Tuesday, the state government feels trapped in an uncomfortable situation when two of its minister were asked direct questions by Citizens' jury on migrant labourers issue.

The citizen’s jury put forward direct questions to Health and Rural & Panchayat Development Minister TS Singh Deo and Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Amarjeet Bhagat that why adequate medical facilities were not provided to migrant labourers during Covid 19 pandemic and lockdown. Why are they discriminated against when they approach for treatment in a hospital either government or private? Do migrant labourers become a problem? Despite working, several times we are not provided our wages. Why? Why do we have to often face insecurity? Does only providing rice satiate our hunger? Why are we not provided other supplements of staple diet such as pulse, oil, vegetables from PDS ration shops?

These types of several uncomfortable questions the jury put before both the ministers. The Health Minister TS Singh Deo said some unwarranted and uncomfortable situations occurred during the pandemic because the government departments lacked actual data related to migrant labourers. And there was no system in place to track actual conditions of migrant labourers.

While interacting with the Jury the Minister for Food and civil supplies, Amajeet Bhagat boasted about the Public Distribution System (PDS) and said, almost the entire population of the state is getting subsidized food grains. This has become possible due to the political will of the Baghel government.

He said, the state has successfully prevented and ensured no one sleeps with an empty stomach.

He took credit that Chhattisgarh is the pioneering state which drafted policy for migrant labour in the country. However, failed to answer why migrant labourers of Chhattisgarh suffered.

Chhattisgarh govt faces heat after organising citizens’ jury for migrant labourers

However, Chhattisgarh’s labour commissioner Alex Paul Menon accepted that there are some lacunae in the present schemes. He said, government is planning to rectify those existing problems by replacing them with a new scheme. In addition, the labour commissioner also said, he will try to put the recommendations of the Citizens’ jury before the government with intention that it will be considered while drafting a new policy and scheme.

Apart from it, Dr. Yogesh Jain (JSS) opposed the move of privatization of government health services and hospitals. Putting his views Dr. Jain said, the state which is incapable of providing medical and health services through public sector entities, cannot provide medical facilities to its public by privatizing government hospitals and health services. He said, it is the duty of the government to provide medical facilities free of cost to its citizens. There should not be provision of any cash counter in the government hospital. Government cannot run away from its responsibility of providing medical facilities free of cost to its public.

Recently, Chhattisgarh government announced to provide support and land to private institutions to open private hospitals in the outskirts and rural areas.

Civil society groups and opposition are continuously opposing the move.

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