Mumbai: Maharashtra government on Friday issued notification allowing the return of over 1,31,500 sugarcane cutting labourers to their homes/villages. They are currently stuck at 38 sugar factories due to the lockdown and desperate to go back home.
The Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories Maharashtra, the association representing these cane cutting farmers, and Minister of Social Justice Dhananjay Munde were among others who had appealed to the government to facilitate return.
The notification comes two days after the Centre and the state government issued revised lockdown guidelines. A couple of days ago, the FPJ reported about the government’s proposal as discontent was brewing among these labourers for not being able to go back home. These farmers are staying in the relief camps opened by the sugar factories.
As per the government notification signed by Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta, it will be the responsibility of the sugar factory managing director to vet that the cane cutting labourers were staying for more than 14 days in the relief camps.
Furthermore, each sugar factory will have to get their medical test done and get the doctor’s certificate stating they were not suffering from cough, cold and fever. Only after that will the factory formulate their evacuation plan.
Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories Maharashtra MD Sanjay Khatal told FPJ: "The sugar factory MDs will prepare an evacuation plan as per the destination village and the cane cutting labourers will undergo the prescribed health check-up. The sugar factory will coordinate with the district collectors for the exit and entry while keeping the village Sarpanchs in the loop as they will give the certificate.
The sugar factory will hand over that certificate to the collectors of districts for exit and entry." The government has clarified that the sugar factory will have to make the transport arrangement by securing necessary permits and approvals from the police.
During the travel, the sugar factory will have to provide meal and water to the labourers. Munde said the government notification has paved way for the return of cane cutting labourers to their respective villages. ‘’My appeal to them is to take proper care of their health and also of their village by adhering to lockdown norms,’’ he added.