The reason for the migrants returning to the cities or wishing to do so is the absence of skilled employment in villages

New Delhi: About two-thirds of the migrants who left for home induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent lockdown have now either returned to the cities or wish to do so. A new study that surveyed 4,835 households across India pegs the reason to the absence of skilled employment in villages.

The study, “How is the hinterland unlocking”, was carried out in collaboration with different organisations. Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India), Action for Social Advancement, Grameen Sahara, i-Saksham, PRADAN, SAATHI-UP, SeSTA, Seva Mandir and Transform Rural India Foundation came together to give their contributions to the study.

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The results of the study indicated that about 29% of migrants who left for villages are back in cities now and 45% want to return. The study is also based on a rapid assessment survey of 4,835 households across 11 states in 48 districts. The time period is June 24 to July 8.

Additionally, the study indicated that migrants who returned are now mainly engaged in labour work in villages. This is about 805 of them which is a huge number in itself. This also indicates that the absence of skilled employment in various villages.

Shockingly, it was also found that one in four households is thinking of taking their child out of school — about 24% of them. The study also reflected that 43% of households still reported a reduction in meals while 55% said that they have reduced meal times.

The study noted, “Marked improvement (in comparison to period during the lockdown) in food intake – it is likely that grain availability through PDS (public distribution system) has helped households improve the consumption as well as reduced the need to buy from the market.”

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The study was also able to highlight the fact that about 6% of households have now mortgaged household items to cope up with the financial vacuum. While some — about 15% — sold their livestock to cope with it. About 2% of the households even sold their dry cattle and milk cattle each. Yet another 2% have already mortgaged their land while 1% surveyed households and have even sold their land. The survey also found that 10% of households have borrowed money from extended families and 7% borrowed from money lenders.

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Talking about government schemes, the study also found that 71% of households have LPG and 85% have it through Ujjwala Yojana. The study added, “80 per cent of Ujjwala beneficiaries have received free refills in last month (June 2020), while 90 per cent households are eligible for PM-KISAN and 38 per cent of those have received the transfer of Rs 2,000.”

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