With the bulk of migrant labourers in Pune gone, Industries and businesses seeking to return to normality are complaining of manpower shortage. In response, to neutralize the impact of labour shortage in the city Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has offered the services of labourers housed in its shelters. There are some 1,000 labourers housed in various shelters set up by PMC around the city.
With one of the solutions to the migrant issue identified being finding them jobs, the civic body set about checking out on people willing to return to work. As it happened, around 200 of them registered for the same. However, according to PMC officials, when different agencies working with the civic body were approached, including Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MahaMetro), to absorb this willing workforce, they rejected the candidates on the grounds that they failed to furnish ID proofs such as Aadhaar and the kind. Only a handful got recruited.
“Most entities we approached demanded Aadhaar and other documents, which most of the migrants remaining here did not have. These companies say that as per existing mandate they cannot recruit people without documents,” informed Swati Gaikwad at PMC’s encroachment department, who has been tasked with monitoring the recruitment process.
For their part, the migrants claim they’ve been able to get along without these documents to date, so they never bothered securing them. I Shrinivas, who arrived in Pune in search of work, just before the lockdown, was stranded at Pune railway station for a few days before he was brought to the shelter set up at Krantiveer Vasudev Balavant Phadke Vidyalaya in Fatima Nagar. He was quick to register when PMC’s offer of jobs came up, but it’s been three days since and nothing has come his way yet.
“I came here to earn and it is pointless to go back. They are demanding documents. I’ve lost them. How do I procure duplicate ones in this lockdown?” he asked. It turns out that most of the labourers at the shelters worked at restaurants and food outlets, where they were never asked for documents.
“I came to this city in 1999 and haven’t returned home since. I worked in the kitchens of private hotels. The owners took care of my lodging and food and never sought any documents. Neither did they arrange for me to procure them. Now, after so many years of service, I’ve been sacked and the lack of documents has become an impediment in getting another job,” pointed out 40-year-old Rajendra Mishra, who was also staying at the school.
Interestingly, contrary to the claims of PMC officials, Hemant Sonawane, general manager of human resources and public relations for Maha-Metro, claimed that no such proposal has been put forward by PMC to them. “We’ve received no official communication offering services of labourers staying at PMC shelters. It is a proposal we would definitely consider and accommodate as many as are willing to work at our construction sites,” he said.
Higher officials at PMC have not lost hope yet and are exploring ways to get around the problem. “We did go to government bodies such as MahaMetro and also private enterprises such as Ganesh Bhel, with the intent of finding work for these people. We are presently figuring a way out of the documentation issue. We are checking if we can arrange ID proofs for these people to resolve the situation,” said Madhav Jagtap, who helms the PMC encroachment department.