Govt’s new database for migrant workers likely to be ready by June 2021

The move is follow-up action to the COVID-induced lockdown which led to large-scale migration

migrant labourers
The industry is concerned that the atmosphere of fear would lead to an exodus of migrant workers. Representational pic

In mid-September this year, the Labour Ministry had said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha that the government is creating a national database of the unorganised workers, including migrant labourers, and will seed their profiles with the 12-digit Aadhaar number to provide them social security coverage.

The Indian Express reported on Thursday (December 10) that the Labour and Employment Ministry has sought help from other ministries to build a new database for migrant workers and others in the unorganised sector, which it hopes to operationalize by May-June next year.

The government will tap into existing databases of schemes such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and One Nation, One Ration Card, along with data from Employees’ State Insurance Corporation and Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, to create a unique registration for migrant workers, the paper said.

It was the first time that the government expressed its intention to create such a database to help informal workers get employment and other welfare benefits.

The ministry’s response came following migration of workers during the lockdown which was imposed in March to contain the COVID-19 spread.

The Indian Express said since multiple databases will be used, a de-duplication exercise using Aadhaar data will be undertaken prior to registration for the new portal, which the National Informatics Centre (NIC) is developing.

Details of gig and platform workers and other unorganized sector workers will be separately added to this database.

“Sanction has been received and we have held two-three meetings with NIC, which is developing the portal. Funds are now available for it. We are in the process of interactions with the ministries concerned,” Labour Secretary Apurva Chandra told the Express.

Also read: COVID lockdown: Right time to save migrant workers from a quagmire

“First of all, we want to take the database of some ministries for seeding purposes. For example, NREGA, One Nation, One Ration. We would like to take those databases – and then there is the preparation of the software, and because it will involve taking databases, de-duplication with Aadhaar, de-duplication with ESIC, EPFO databases, and then allowing for registration, either on their own or through CSCs (common service centres),” Chandra said.

NIC has estimated an approximate timeline of six months to complete work on the portal, he said.

Also read: As cities unlock, fate of migrant workers in jig jobs remains locked

There are around 8-10 crore workers registered under NREGA. About 10-15 lakh would be gig and platform workers. “One Nation, One Ration card is a big database, around 30-35 crore people under it. But many would be common between NREGA and One Nation, One Ration. So those would be duplications. Even gig and platform workers might have worked earlier in organised sectors with EPF contributions and so, there could be duplication. So, the de-duplication process will take some time,” Chandra told the paper.