The first case of COVID-19 pandemic in India was reported on 30 January 2020, originating from China. Due to this outbreak, all educational, commercial, transportation and industrial activities have been shut down due to lockdown observed in country starting on 24th March 2020 and still continuing. Besides this the one who most affected in this lockdown period are migrant labourers facing multiple hazards like loss of income, food shortages and lack in the shelter facilities because lockdown was declared as an emergency and labourers could not reach their hometown and stuck at their workplaces in different Cities and States. During this lockdown period, thousands of migrant labourers started walking and cycling hundreds of kilometres to reach their native places many did so while hungry and died due to hunger and dehydration. As we have heard so many cases of accidents of migrant labourers till date, the recent one 16 migrants were killed while sleeping on railway track and railway passed over them while they were returning their homes in Aurangabad, Maharashtra due to unavailability of transportation during the lockdown period. Seeing this situation State and Central government arranged buses and railway facility to carry millions of migrant labourers to reach their native places.
The role of planning interventions for migrant labourers is more important during this lockdown period and post lockdown period or during any other crisis. During this lockdown period, the local booths need to be set up in villages, towns and cities by authorities one in each ward for remaining labourers stuck according to requirement so as to ensure that no gathering of migrant labourers take place and government guideline can be followed. The migrant labourers who have been stuck at work places need to give his/her information regarding all his contact details, work details, income details, place of residence during work and native place address at this local booth situated in each village, town and city maintaining social distance and following government guidelines. Once this information is collected the spatial database need to be created by Planner using exact locations and information provided by migrant labourers using GIS (Geographic Information System) of each town and cities in the Country. This data collected need to be analyse and accordingly figure out buses and railways required to carry remaining labourers to reach their native places. During the time period required to complete the process the State government and local government should ensure that the labourers who have been stuck should get proper food, shelter and medical facilities. Under the One Nation One Ration Card which is recently launched scheme by Government of India, the state governments should make the temporary ration cards for migrant labourers under this scheme by using spatial database created by the planners of labourers information, so that labourers can access to ration (food) in stuck places irrespective to old ration card which was applicable to particular city only. And post lockdown period this ration cards can be converted to permanent one. The labourers stuck in workplaces lacking in shelter facilities, the planner need to identify the safest place to form relief centres for labourers for providing shelters. Using the COVID-19 cases locations point data the hotspot areas and cold spot area in the town and cities can be identified using Hotspot analysis in GIS and using the results the planners can predict and identify safest place where there are no cases and less chances of COVID-19 using Interpolation methods (Kriging Method) in GIS and local government with the help of this data can form relief centres with proper medical and food facilities for migrant labourers. This process would ensure proper care and help for labourers and provide basic necessity like food, shelter, medical and transportation facilities to reach their native places during this lockdown period.
As we know that many labours have return home during lockdown period and at same time government has asked companies and industries to resume with their work. This would affect the goods and services production due to unavailability of labours at this moment. The labours are an important asset in manufacturing, production and construction sector and contribute much to economy of the country and also on one hand in the country labourers are also diminishing due to lack of employment opportunities and workforce required in Industries is also decreasing due to unavailability of proper trained and skill labourers required for the industries. Taking all the factors into considerations in post lockdown period planning need to focus on providing Micro, Small and Medium enterprises, cottage industries, special economic zones in Development plans and Regional plans of the Cities and districts of the state and taking into consideration the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan a special economic package launched by Government of India on 8th May 2020 to boost and revive the economy of India with focus on the labour, land, liquidity, MSME’s and cottage industries. Planning need to focus on increasing the workforce of the Industries which would attract more labourers and need to advice the Government on providing the skill and training centres to labourers in order to increase skill labourers and workforce in the industries. Planning need to focus on making policy and schemes for providing zones of residences for migrant labours with all basic facilities required around industries, which will be the strategy to attract more labourers and workforce in the Industries located in town and cities. This planning interventions would definitely help to solve the issues of industries requiring skill labourers, increasing workforce in the industries, providing shelter and facilities to migrant labourers.
In short if a planning focus on providing MSME’s, cottage industries and SEZ’s in the village, town and cities and providing zone of residences with proper enquiry and registrations to migrant labourers and all the basic facilities made available then it will attract more labourers and help to increase the workforce in the industries. As labourers are important assets for the production of goods and services, implementing this planning interventions will encourage industries to produce more items and new brands on one hand with increase in workforce and on other hand it will ensure the care, safety, employment, income and all basic facilities for the migrant labourers. Doing this will definitely make India grow and revive its economy and produce more items and new brands in the country itself rather than relying and using export items from other countries. This Planning interventions for migrant labourers will definitely make India a Aatma Nirbhar and India of 21st Century will be known by the whole world.
Together We Will Grow, Together We Will Build