'Needed policy for poor urban migrants'

The number of internal migrant has estimated to increase to 326 million in 2007-08, 30% of India’s population

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | December 18, 2012



While there many programmes for rural poor, there is no policy to adress the needs of urban poor migrants. They constitute a large number of the population, says NC Saxena, member of national advisory council and commissioner to the supreme court.

Speaking at the launch of publications on internal migration in India by UNESCO and UNICEF, on the occasion of international migrant day, Saxena said even if the budget is provided by the centre, the states fail to use it for the urban migrant. He called for reassessing the way poor are calculated as, he says, faulty definition is followed to declare the poor in the urban set up.

“Mumbai says only 4% of its population is poor, but census shows that 53% of its population live in slums and 8% live on pavements. Even Delhi declared 8% of its population as poor. But in reality 30% of its population lives in slums and 4% on pavements.” He adds that the urban migrant might be earning Rs 200 a day, he lives in dehumanize condition and have no access to basic amenities. He adds that migrants are looked upon as outsiders and burden by the local administration but they forget that these people contribute a lot to our economy.

According to 2001 census, there are 309 million internal migrants in India, which is nearly 30 percent of the total population. Out of which more than 70 percent are women, who are excluded from the economic and social lives. The publication, however, highlights that the number has increased to 326 million in 2007-08, 30% of India’s population. Out of which 180 million are migrant workers and 15 million are child migrants.

Report further highlights the hardships faced by urban migrants. These people are denied access to subsidized food available through the PDS and even face difficulties in accessing housing and other basic amenities such as water and sanitation. Education of migrant children also suffers when they accompany their parents during seasonal migration and are forced to drop out. The report says that there is an overlap between the academic session in schools (June-April) and the seasonal migration cycle (November-June), following which children either report drop out or irregular attendance.

Also, women migrants largely remain invisible and discriminated against men in the work force. They are paid less than male counterparts  and their economic contribution is often subsumed in family labour units.

Internal migrants is rampant in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa. Report suggests to address the issue of internal migrants in the 12th five year plan and they be included by ensuring portability of central government schemes.

Saxena says the poor go through all kinds of problems to get access to social welfare schemes. “Even to get Aadhar number some kind of document proof is required. But we have seen a great deal of anxiety among the urban poor to get this,” he added.

Saxena emphasized on providing housing to the migrants and suggested more and more rental schemes in the housing sector to make housing affordable for them. “We can’t imagine a rickshaw puller buying the house worth Rs 20-30 lakh,” he said, adding, “Also government must come out with taxation programmes for properties which are not used in the cities. People buy houses for investment purposes which remain vacant for years.” He suggested that the new housing schemes must declare how it will benefit the urban poor and the centre should not release funds under JNNURM unless states provide basic amenities to the poor. "We must reserve 30% of new houses for the urban poor," he said.

Rakesh Ranjan, director of housing and urban affairs at planning commission says providing housing to the migrants should be within the priority of the city. “We have a shortage of 8.78 million dwelling units and there are 9 million vacant houses in the urban set up. Immediate solution must be to provide basic amenities in the slums,” he said.

He further added that under national urban livelihood mission, which the government is planning to launch soon, priority would be given to provide shelters to the homeless. He said the ministry concerned is engaged in the drafting the scheme. “The ministry of urban housing has asked states to bring more projects under Rajiv Awas Yojana to privide affordable housing.”

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