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Making all efforts to shield labourers from distress: Gopal Rai

New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) With the lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic affecting most sectors of the economy, Delhi Cabinet Minister Gopal Rai said, here on Thursday, the state government was making all efforts to help the labourers in distress in the national capital.

Speaking to IANS, Rai said in the working class, the biggest threat was to self-employed, contract workers and daily wagers.

“We will face a lot of issues in the coming days because of the coronavirus crisis. The real challenge, after the country emerges from the epidemic, will be to bring the economy back on track. We will be far behind on the economic front,” Rai told IANS.

Rai, Cabinet Minister for Labour, urged the employers to stand with the workers in this difficult time. “First of all, I would like to request all the employers to stand with their employees. The salary of any employee should not be deducted. We are going through a difficult phase, which will be overcome soon.”

On steps by the government to help daily wagers, he said the government announced Rs 5,000 one-time financial aid for the construction workers soon after the lockdown was imposed.

“The money was given so that the daily wagers don’t face any financial crisis and can at least have food. The government will issue Rs 5,000 to the public vehicle drivers in the city. The government is making all efforts to avoid any economic loss to labourers due to coronavirus,” Rai said.

Rs 5,000 was provided to around 40,000 construction workers through the Delhi Labour Welfare Board, which amounted to Rs 20 crore.

Rai said he would like to suggest the central government that given the Indian conditions it should formulate practical economic policies, keeping in mind the workers, farmers and youth.

He said the coronavirus crisis would impact all sectors. The technology sector might suffer more because of its dependence on the US and China, he said and added, the cottage industries and small-scale industries would too be hit hard.

Stating that industries are yet to come out of the 2016 demonetisation setback, he said the impact of coronavirus would make the situation “quite worrisome”.

On the migrant labourers found near the banks of Yamuna, Rai said no sooner it came to the notice, the AAP government took action and shifted them to the nearest shelter. “Proper food and lodging arrangements have been made for them.”

On the talk of the city government arranging buses/trains for migrants to go home, Rai said any such thing would only cause more Covid-19 cases.

“As we know there is no vaccine for coronavirus yet, only way to stop the infection from spreading is to follow the lockdown rules. In such a situation, any movement of migrant labourers to their respective states will be an invitation to the spread of coronavirus.

“We do understand that in such difficult time, everyone wants to be with the family. But following the lockdown is more important than that because they are safe and their family is also safe.”

Rai urged the migrants to follow the lockdown norms and stay indoors, and assured them the government was taking special care of them and had made proper arrangements for food and housing. “The government is providing cooked food to about 10 lakh people. Shelters for thousands of people have also been arranged.”

Stating that under the leadership of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, all Ministers and MLAs of Delhi are standing with the migrants in the this hour of crisis, Rai said, “We do understand the migrant labourers’ plight and will ensure that they don’t face any problem.”

–IANS

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