The growing Covid-19 cases and fresh restrictions have once again befallen ill-fated and miserable migrant workers. They are once again rushing back to hometowns, especially from the state of Maharashtra, repeating a year-old painful scene of influx and chaos at Bus terminals and Railways stations.
Mumbai: Huge crowd of migrant workers arrive at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus pic.twitter.com/5zANymj7rS
— The Times Of India (@timesofindia) April 14, 2021
Though their struggle and pain are same this time, there is one important relief. Back home, they are assured of food on their plate this time, the basic necessity for which many were made to struggle.
This goes to the credit of implementation of the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ (ONORC) initiative on war-footing. Amidst the reform measures through Aatmanirbhar Bharat drive last year amidst pandemic, the central government laid emphasis on ONOR implementation.
An added incentive for the states to join ONORC under the Aatma Nirbhar Package announced in May by Finance Minister was that states will be allowed to borrow more from the market if they implement a set of good governance measures such as the ONORC.
The Change for Migrants this Time
See the present situation. As Maharashtra has entered into a curfew situation to contain the pandemic, workers from other states started returning to their home states in large numbers. “What we do here and what shall we eat if businesses shut down?” is the question the returning workers are asking and rightly so.
Now, for the record, back in November 2020 itself Maharashtra was one among the 28 states that have updated their ration list for One Nation One ration scheme.
So, a worker who was receiving food grains through Public Distribution System in Maharashtra will get it even in the place where he returns.
Maharashtra is just an example. No governments need to scramble resources to identify the returning workers to provide them ration through different means this time, since most states, including the populous states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, have signed up to the ONORC.
Here is what the tech-driven ‘one nation, one ration card’ scheme does. It allows labourers, daily wagers, urban poor like rag pickers, street dwellers, temporary workers in organised and unorganised sectors, domestic workers etc to get their daily quota of food grains from any electronic point of sale-enabled Fair Price Shops of their choice anywhere in the country.