Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Sunday announced that any administration that wants to employ migrant workers from his state in the future will have to first seek permission from his government, PTI reported. He said that the migrant labourers were “not properly taken care of” by various states in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown.

“They are our people,” Adityanath said in a virtual interaction with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated publications. “If some states want them back, they have to seek permission from the state government. All migrant workers are being registered and their skills mapped. Any state or entity interested in inviting migrant workers will need to assure and provide for their socio-legal-monetary rights.”

Earlier this month, the Adityanath-led government cleared an ordinance exempting businesses and industries from labour laws, except for a handful, for the next three years to boost investments hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Uttar Pradesh government has also decided to set up a migration commission to look into various factors related to the rights of migrant workers and to ensure they are not exploited. “Insurance, social security, re-employment assistance, provision for unemployment allowance are some of the factors that will be looked into by the commission,” Adityanath added. Additionally, the commission will provide jobs to labourers who have returned to the state amid the nationwide lockdown.

The chief minister also claimed that migrant workers were recovering faster from the coronavirus, The Indian Express reported. “We know that migrant labourers who come back are likely to be infected,” he added. “But, they work hard and sweat, and naturally they have the capacity to fight the virus. If a normal person gets infected, then they are taking 14 to 20 days to recover. Migrant labourers are testing negative on the sixth or seventh day. This is our strength.”

He said the state has faced several challenges during the coronavirus crisis. “At the beginning, migrant workers and labourers started coming to the state,” Adityanath added. “If one has to go to eastern parts, then UP is on the way...This was the first challenge for us. At some places, they were dropped at the UP border after they were brought in buses. We deployed 16,000 buses and within 24 hours, they were brought back to their home districts and arrangements were made to screen them.”

Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said that over 23 lakh migrant workers have returned to Uttar Pradesh so far. Meanwhile, the chief minister claimed that 18 crore people in the state had been provided foodgrains five times. “As one can see, there is a huge number of workers and labourers who are migrating,” Adityanath said. “Around 25 lakh labourers work in UP. Not even one is migrating. They are staying here because they were given an honorarium...out of the 25 lakh workers, 22 lakh are back at their jobs and they also got paid for the lockdown period.”

Uttar Pradesh has reported 6,268 cases of the coronavirus and 161 fatalities, according to the figures from the Union Health Ministry on Monday.

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