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Former Maha CM Chavan slams Centre, state govt for failing to address issues of migrants

Chavan alleged that both the Centre and the Maharashtra government have been ‘frugal’ in refusing to spend money in taking the migrants back home

Updated: May 17, 2020 16:28 IST

By Yogesh Joshi, Hindustan Times Pune

Prithviraj Chavan, while speaking to journalists through a video conference on Saturday, said both the Centre and state government have failed to ensure smooth return of migrants. (Kunal Patil/HT File Photo)

Former Maharashtra chief minister and senior congressman Prithviraj Chavan pointed out the shortcomings of the Maharashtra government as well as the Centre in its fight against Covid-19 and handling of the migrant workers issue.

Chavan, while speaking to journalists through a video conference on Saturday, said both the Centre and state government have failed to ensure smooth return of migrants. Chavan’s Congress party is part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government of which the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are the other two key players.

Reacting to a query on the exodus of the migrant labourers from the state, Chavan alleged that both the Centre and the Maharashtra government have been ‘frugal’ in refusing to spend money in taking the migrants back home.

“I feel that there was a major shortcoming on the part of the Centre and the state government regarding the way we are treating the migrant workers and not spending money on them. It was our human responsibility to send the migrant workers back to their states and we have failed in it completely,” Chavan said, adding that with migrants gone, a labour shortage crisis might soon occur.



The former chief minister said that there is a need to create dedicated accommodation facilities for labourers. Large number of migrant workers had to leave for their respective states on feet or through private vehicles as the Centre and state did not initially organise public transport.

It was after the first week of May that the railway ministry organised special trains while the state government allowed state transport buses for labourers.

Chavan also advised chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to assert leadership in ensuring efficient working from bureaucrats.

“I have a suggestion for the chief minister and he should take it positively without seeing it as criticism. The chief minister’s important task is to appoint right persons at the right place especially when there is inconsistency in the implementation of government orders. This is mostly because power has been given to sub-divisional officers, district collectors and divisional commissioners,” said Chavan while addressing a query on lack of coordination between various officials and absence of leadership in Maharashtra.

“Currently there are around 10 senior IAS officers who have no work. On the contrary, there are officers handling the charge of two different ministries. So, the chief minister should issue an order and fill up these posts in one day. After giving them regular appointments, they can be given other responsibilities,” said Chavan.

Chavan pointed out that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is sitting on ample money; the leadership there is not in a position to use it properly. “BMC has thousands of crores in the bank and the money can be utilised in boosting local infrastructure. But the leadership there is unable to do it properly,” Chavan said, when asked about his view of BMC keeping large a sum in the bank as fixed deposits.

It was Chavan who had last week advised the Centre to take back gold from temples to mitigate a financial crisis, a suggestion that evoked sharp responses from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Chavan also expressed his disappointment over the announcements made by Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in terms of Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package.

“The main challenge we have is how to bring the economy back on track, how to turn the wheels of the economy. I welcome the stimulus package announced by the central government, but after listening to the announcements made by the finance minister, I’m disappointed,” Chavan said.

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