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Student-led NLIU project assist over 200 migrant labourers with practical advice, help on dealing with lockdown

NLIU students use lockdown to assist stranded migrant labourers get home
NLIU students use lockdown to assist stranded migrant labourers get home

NLIU Bhopal students studying employment law have started a website, telephone helpline and initiative to assist migrant labourers with some of the difficulties they face during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Mazdoormitra website had been suggested by the NLIU faculty in charge Prof Mahendra Soni, the chairperson of NLIU’s Centre for Labour Laws, explained NLIU student and convenor of Amar Tandon.

Since starting just over a month ago, however, it was a completely student-led and -run initiative. With the campus being closed, the team of 15 students, with a majority in their first and second years, have been “constantly in touch with each other” via WhatsApp and video conferencing.

Each night, the team divides tasks amongst members.

More than 200 inquiries had been received by the group of 15 students to date, Tandon said, with most queries concerning issues of procuring food and finding night shelters, for which the students have been connecting them with contacts of various “NGOs and individuals working towards this”, usually within 24 hours.

“We helped people procure rations and help them get food and night shelters in Nagpur, in Bhopal and other MP districts and some people from Mumbai and Andhra Pradesh also asked us for the assistance,” he said.

“Some of them had genuine issues to reach home and apply for E-pass,” he added, about how e-passes to allow travel between states having been particularly difficult.

“The major issue is regarding the travel. We’ve got in touch with the CM and other higher authorities and asked them for intervention in cases where there are more than 50 people or where a huge group is stranded and looking for help,” said Tandon. “The E-pass process is subject to the approval of the district magistrates and we’re in the process of asking for their intervention to help the labourers in this issue.”

The group has also assisted by getting inquirers to “register with the Mazdoor Sahayata Kendra of various state governments... and personally dealing with the authorities regarding their application status and to help them with transport facilities”.

However, the process is not easy and many E-pass applications remain to be cleared with students trying their best to cooperate reach with authorities to accelerate the process.

The website is just around two weeks young at this point, and is not the first initiative of the centre. Initially they had started out with an online national labour law quiz competition on 1 May with more than 400 participants, including high court and lower judges, researchers and academics, to fundraise for the PM Cares Fund.

The second initiative was a “labour awareness initiative primarily targeting the students from across the nation and academicians as well as the common man alike”, said Tandon.

The Mazdoormitra website, meanwhile, was set up within 24 hours and the response was “on the first day was amazing with people from across MP and then from various other states started calling regarding the relief and assistance which they needed”, said Tandon, with the initiative also having been covered in some newspapers.

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