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Synopsis: State support for food and income along with rent waiver during the pandemic to workers and migrants can stop reverse migration.
Why waive rents for migrants during the pandemic crisis?
- One, According to the findings by the RMKU and the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) in Jaipur, on a survey of 500 domestic workers, rent formed the majority component of debt post lockdowns.
- Two, it is one of the leading causes of mass reverse migration, according to the reports by the Stranded Workers Action Network.
Why the steps taken by the government to waive rent for migrants failed during the first covid wave?
Last year, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in an order stated that the landlords should not demand rent from the workers, including the migrants for a period of 1 month. However, this measure was largely a failure due to the following reasons.
- One, lack of clarity. The order did not state clearly whether the rent to be waived or just deferred.
- Two, no incentives for Landlords. Many landlords, especially the old-aged population rely on rent for their sustenance. Thus, lack of incentives from the government for the needy resulted in noncompliance.
- Three, lack of enforceable mechanism. There was no creation of a regulation body to monitor the enforcement of this order.
Solutions to address this issue?
- First, a moratorium should be announced with a clearer enforcement mechanism, with a clear distinction between deferment and rent waivers.
- Second, the state should provide compensation to Landlords for lost rent, at least a partial amount.
- Third, direct cash transfer for rent support based on rental market conditions can be a part of the solution.
- Fourth, limited waivers on utility expenses of workers. For example, partial waiver on electricity bills and penalties charged on non-payment.
Returning to their villages is not a willful choice for migrants, as villages are lacking employment, no skills for agricultural employment, and the absence of social ties. Yet, they are forced to take this painful journey due to a lack of livelihood options in urban areas. State support for basic food (PDS), shelter (Rent waiver), and direct cash transfer for basic sustenance can halt the reverse migration of migrants.
Source: The Hindu