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In poll-bound Bihar, Railways lines up work for returning migrants

With Railway work among the 25 listed in the scheme for returning migrants to get jobs in their home states, the move has so far yielded 3.5 lakh mandays worth of work in Bihar since June 20, when the Abhiyaan was launched, according to official data.

FOUR MONTHS after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan from Khagaria in poll-bound Bihar, the Railways has so far engaged around 2,402 returning migrants from the state in projects worth Rs 610 crore, senior officials told The Indian Express.

With Railway work among the 25 listed in the scheme for returning migrants to get jobs in their home states, the move has so far yielded 3.5 lakh mandays worth of work in Bihar since June 20, when the Abhiyaan was launched, according to official data.

The labourers were engaged in 40 segments of work in the state’s districts, including electrification, laying tracks, building barracks and bridges, supplying stones, signalling work and other manual labour at sites.

Overall, the data show that Railways engaged 12,000 labourers, created over 12.4 lakh mandays worth of work and paid out over Rs 2,500 crore to contractors involved in 170 segments of work in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan.

In terms of total expenditure on such work in Bihar, Nawada topped with payouts of Rs 92 crore followed by Supaul (Rs 77 crore) and Vaishali (Rs 47 crore).

Officials estimate that around Rs 200 crore have been given out as direct wages to the labour force.

“Our engineers and contractors consulted with District Magistrates and took lists of migrant workers who had returned. A lot of them have been engaged in the ongoing work. But many others could not be engaged because the sites were either far from their villages or they did not have the skills required,” said a senior official of East Central Railway, which is one of the four agencies engaged in Bihar, apart from North Eastern Railway, IRCON and Dedicated Freight Corridor.

“They need the jobs. They approached us, and we decided to engage them in whatever way we could,” said Saransh Agrawal, director of Jhajharia Nirman Ltd, which has employed about 20 migrant workers for a Road Over Bridge between Mohania and Sasaram for the corridor.

“We paid minimum wages as per the Bihar government. It is not so much about the skills they have. People with specific skills are brought in by the contractors. But this was more like a moral obligation for us, so we used the migrants for whatever manual labour they could do,” he said.

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