ONORC transaction shows return of migrant workers back in Delhi

  • | Monday | 18th October, 2021

Goods and services tax (GST) and value-added tax (VAT) collections are also up since July, suggesting that economic activities have gone up with a phased scaling down of lockdown restrictions.

Ever since, the pandemic second wave hit the nation the transactions recorded under the ONORC (one nation one ration card) have been showing a upward trend and indicating that the migrant workers have been moving out once again, said the senior Delhi Government officials.

Goods and services tax (GST) and value-added tax (VAT) collections are also up since July, suggesting that economic activities have gone up with a phased scaling down of lockdown restrictions.

“Other than schools, prohibition on large gatherings, and maximum cap on guests in certain industries such as restaurants, bars, banquet halls, etc, are over. More migrant workers are now returning to the city each month,” said a senior official in the Delhi government on condition of anonymity.

The ONORC scheme allows people to avail of subsidised food grains under the National Food Security Act from fair price shops in towns they live irrespective of where their ration cards are registered. Government records show that when the scheme was rolled out in July, there were 29,569 transactions at the 2,000-odd fair price shops in the city. This went up to 38,173 in August and 85,327 in September. This month, transactions have already crossed 46,000. Officials in the government’s food and civil supplies department said, over the next one week, it may exceed the 100,000-mark for the first time.

The number of ration cardholders from other states who reside in Delhi is estimated by the government as 200,000, which translates to around 1 million beneficiaries (assuming each cardholder feeds four other mouths).

These are over and above the 1.78 million ration cardholders and 7.2 million beneficiaries registered in the national capital.

Going by Census 2011 data, around 40% of the 7.2 million are also believed to be migrants from other states who have settled in Delhi over time and got ration cards registered here.

“Trade, commerce and industrial activities have picked up and it reflects in the GST and VAT collections in the first two quarters. That usually leads to higher labour demand,” said the first senior official cited above.

Government records showed that GST collections in Delhi witnessed a decrease from â‚¹2,325.64 crore recorded in April to â‚¹991.05 crore in May and further down to â‚¹968.4 crore in June. But they went up to â‚¹1,584.75 crore in July, further up to â‚¹1,713.96 crore in August and â‚¹1,976.82 crore in September.

VAT collections, too, reflect a similar trend. They went down from â‚¹417.01 crore in April to â‚¹358.17 crore in May and further down to â‚¹207.35 crore in June. But they started to go up after that— â‚¹440.03 crore in July, â‚¹557.7 crore in August and â‚¹565.92 crore in September, records showed.

“We learnt that the government was scaling down restrictions and economic activities. But we did not have the confidence to return till September. Now it seems safe. I have a job in a factory. Thanks to the ration card scheme, we can avail subsidised food grain in Delhi,” said Rajesh Prajapati, a migrant from Bihar.

Rakesh Kumar, a migrant from eastern Uttar Pradesh said, “Big cities like Delhi lack safety nets for poor people like us. The ration scheme comes as a major relief because our jobs are not very secure.”

While the government had started with a phased relaxation process of the lockdown since June.

“These concerns have clearly reduced now. By Diwali, industries are expected to operate at 90% capacity and above. Labour demand is increasing. So, a lot of migrant workers are coming back to the city,” said Neeraj Sehgal, general secretary of the welfare body at Delhi’s most prominent industrial area in Mayapuri.

Government reports said that more than 807,000 migrant workers left Delhi in buses they boarded from the interstate bus terminals in the first four weeks of the complete lockdown starting April 19 this year, that came after a record surge in Covid-19 infections.

The actual number is likely to be higher because the city government did not maintain records of migrant workers who left the city in trains and other means in the same period.


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