71% returnees not keen to migrate from Odisha if given regular employment: Survey

Sambalpur: Around 71 per cent of the migrants who have returned to Odisha from across the country due to the global virus pandemic are not interested to migrate elsewhere if they find stable employment opportunities in the state, a study has said.

The study, involving a telephonic survey, was conducted in four western Odisha districts of Sambalpur, Balangir, Deogarh and Bargarh.

As many as 227 migrant returnees – 88 from Bargarh, 75 from Sambalpur, 35 from Balangir and 29 from Deogarh – were interviewed as part of the survey.

The study on migrant labourers, “Perception of returnee migrants on COVID-19 and its impact on social and migratory status”, was conducted by the Centre of Excellence Regional Development and Tribal Studies of Sambalpur University.

It was found that the people from the four districts of western Odisha migrate primarily for employment as they are unable to get stable jobs within the state, said Prof Arun Kumar Acharya.

During the study it was found that the workers would not migrate if constant employment opportunities are created in the region, he said. “There is an adequate scope for the government to create employment opportunities for the unemployed in the state,” he said.

Mentioning that many people proceed to Tamil Nadu from Bolangir district to work in textile units in the southern state, Acharya said, there is no textile factory in Bolangir though cotton is cultivated in the region.

“People in the state have the expertise and if they are provided with the opportunity to work in textile factories here, there will be no need for them to migrate in search of jobs,” he said.

Similarly, if the agricultural infrastructure is strengthened in the state, people will not migrate to other parts of the country for employment, Prof Acharya said. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) does not provide constant employment to the labourers and therefore they are compelled to migrate to other states for jobs, he said.

The study showed that around 50 per cent migrant returnees are below the age of 25 years, while about 15 per cent of migrants never attended school and 46 per cent of them are educated upto primary school level.

Majority of the migrants returned from the southern states, the survey pointed out.

Around 22 per cent returned from of Tamil Nadu, while 14 per cent came from Andhra Pradesh, 10 per cent from Telangana and 9 per cent from Maharashtra, it said. Several migrants also returned from states like Karnataka, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, and Gujarat.

The survey also revealed that there are multiple reasons behind the return of the migrants.

While 46.7 per cent of the returnees mentioned that they came back because the industries where they were working were closed due to the lockdown, 36.3 per cent migrants said they returned as they were worried about contracting novel coronavirus.

The report said, around 88 per cent of migrants were immediately taken to quarantine centres on their return. While 56.4 per cent of the returnees said they were not allowed to enter their villages, 41 per cent claimed that they faced discrimination and isolation after being discharged from the quarantine centres.

As per the findings, around 49 per cent of the returnees are now working in their agricultural fields, while 21 per cent said they are working as daily wage labourers in their villages or nearby areas.


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